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US Senator urges Nepalese army to press king to restore democracy

Written by: Staff

Kathmandu, April 15 (UNI) US Senator Patrick Leahy has said it's time for the Royal Nepalese Army (RNA) to put ''strong pressure'' on King Gyanendra to restore democracy in the Himalyan kingdom.

''It is time for the army to put strong pressure on the King before they harm more demonstrators and further discredit themselves in the eyes of the Nepali people and the international community,'' media reports quoted Mr Leahy.

''This is a precarious time for Nepal, but the people's aspiration for democracy and peace will ultimately prove stronger than the ambitions of a feudalistic autocrat.'' He said the ongoing protests, organised at the call of the seven-party alliance, were predictable ''after the King trampled on the Constitution, showed absolutely no willingness to back down, and the Maoist insurgency has grown steadily worse.'' Mr Leahy has been very critical to the autocratic rule of King Gyanendra since he grabbed power sacking an elected government and dissolving the parliament.

Meanwhile, the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) has requested UN Secretary General Kofi Annan to pressurise the King to reinstate democracy and human rights in the mountainous nation.

In a letter addressed to Mr Annan, IFJ urged him to state his support for the Nepalese struggle for democracy and stop the King from targeting journalists and cracking down on demonstrators.

Since the announcement of curfew on April 5, over 100 journalists have been arrested, over 24 assaulted and eight people reported killed, IFJ said.

''We are sickened at the beatings and assaults on our colleagues by the Royal Nepalese Army and police and would welcome the UN's criticism of the King's actions,'' it said.

''The blatant disregard that the Nepalese authorities are showing for the work of the media is abhorrent and demands condemnation from the international community,'' IFJ's president Christopher Warren said in the letter.

IFJ said, ''Assistant Sub-inspector Sailesh Giri and policeman Ram Hari Karki infiltrated a protest demonstration in Kathmandu pretending to be journalists...in another instance, plainclothed Royal Nepalese Army personnel infiltrated a peaceful demonstration in Kohalpur Bazaar, Banke on April 10.'' UNI XC SC RS1453

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