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Nepal King reinstates parliament; India hails proclamation

Written by: Staff
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Kathmandu, Apr 24 (UNI) Bowing to the intense pressure mounted by pro-democracy protestors, Nepal's King Gyanendra tonight announced the revival of the kingdom's dissolved parliament, a key demand of the seven-party alliance that had been spearheading the agitation since April 6.

''We, through this proclamation, reinstate the house of representatives which was dissolved on May 22, 2002,'' he said on national television.

''We call upon the seven-party alliance to bear the responsibility of taking the nation on the path to national unity and prosperity, while ensuring permanent peace and safeguarding multi-party democracy.'' The king has summoned parliament to meet at 1300 hrs on April 28.

The king also expressed condolences for those killed and injured in the anti-monarchy violence.

The proclamation comes ahead of the massive rally tomorrow in which the leaders of the alliance were supposed to address 20 lakh people.

Highly placed sources in the Nepali Congress said a meeting was under way at former prime minister G P Koirala's house to discuss the situation after the King's announcement.

Former Prime Minister and founder member of the Nepali Congress K P Bhattarai told UNI that ''though it is late, the King has shown political courage and respected public sentiment. History will judge him accordingly.'' The seven party-alliance has indicated that it would call off its agitation tomorrow following the king's proclamation.

Meanwhile, India has welcomed the king's decision to revive parliament and hoped that an interim government would be in place in the Himalayan kingdom in a day or two.

Reacting to the king's broadcast, National Security Advisor M K Naryanan, who is in in Berlin along with the Prime Minister, hoped that all the necessary steps had been taken by Nepal for the restoration of multi-party democracy.

Earlier in the day, skirmishes between baton-wielding security personnel and pro-democracy protestors continued unabated in different parts of Nepal.

Reports received here said over 15 people were injured when police baton charged and fired teargas shells to disperse the protestors near Narayan Gopal Chowk.

Reports said helicopters of the Royal Nepalese Army (RNA) were being used for aerial surveillance of crowds and direct ground troops.

Last week, King Gyanendra had announced return of sovereignty to the people, asking the seven political parties to recommend the name of a prime minister of their choosing.

The monarch, expressing his desire to keep the titular title to him, had said the present government would continue until the new one was formed.

Refusing to bite the bait, the seven parties had rejected the offer outright and vowed to intensify the agitation for the restoration of the multi-party democracy in the Himalayan kingdom.

At least 12 people were killed and thousands injured in the more than two-week long protests.

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