Nepali Times
Update
"Hollow exercise"



In their harshest ever criticism of the royal regime, the United States, Japan, India and the UK have come down heavily on the king for conducting showcase civil polls and the continued detention of political leaders.

The US State Department on Thursday labelled the municipal elections in Nepal this week a "hollow attempt" by the king to legitimise his takeover last year. State Department spokesman Sean McCormack also called on the king to release political prisoners and bring the mainstream parties into the fold. This line was strongly echoed by Japan which said it deplored the continued detention of political figures in Nepal and criticised the elections as being held without the "broad support" of the people.

In a similar vein, the Indian external affairs spokesman Navtej Sarna also also lashed out at the municipal polls, saying it lacked credibility because it didn\'t have the participation of the main political parties. All three countries were also strongly critical of the Maoists for trying to violently distrupt the polls.

Analysts said the most surprising was the Japanese criticism of the royal regime, and said it marked a new vocal line from Tokyo in recent weeks. A Japanese Foreign Ministry official visited Kathmandu on a fact-finding mission last week and also made a stopover in New Delhi. The Japanese appear to be especially incensed about the detention of hundreds of political leaders and rights activists. "Japan regrets that activists of the political parties were arrested," the statement from Tokyo said.

The American reaction was also remarkably harsh in its condemnation of the civil polls, and could signify that Washington is getting increasingly concerened that the monarchy could be overthrown if it continues on its present autocratic path and be replaced by Maoist totalitarianism. All three countries believe that an alliance between the constitutional forces is still possible and the only way to bring lasting peace to the country.

A press statement by the Foreign and Commonwealth Minister Kim Howells said Thursday: \'The UK does not believe that the municipal elections in Nepal on February 8 was a meaningful exercise in canvassing the political wishes of the people of Nepal.\'

The statement further said, We have consistently urged the King to reach out to the political parties to develop a common agenda for a full return of multiparty democracy, and have stressed the need for an inclusive and comprehensive process to achieve a negotiated settlement.

The government has not yet reacted to the statements.



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(11 JAN 2013 - 17 JAN 2013)


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