Nepali Times
Headline
Changing of the guard


MALLIKA ARYAL



SAM KANG LI

DISTANT THUNDER: Storm clouds brew over the palace on Wednesday evening.

When the newly-elected constituent assembly sits for its first meeting at the BICC on 28 May, it will ratify the abolition of the monarchy before it even starts drafting a new constitution.

To make things easy, king Gyanendra could vacate the palace on 27 May itself. If he wants to make it difficult, he could try to stick it out and face protests at the gates, which could turn ugly.

When Nepal was declared a federal republic last year, the king was given a grace period to leave the palace and he has had ample time to plan how he was going to go, says political analyst Krishna Hachhethu. But the king has tried to cling on till the last.

Right-wing Hindu groups and royalists haven't given up, and say only a referendum can abolish the 240-year-old institution. The decision to remove the king came from a reinstated unelected parliament that had no legitimacy, deputy royal high priest Madhav Bhattarai told Nepali Times.

The RPP (Nepal) has been a vocal champion of monarchy and its leader Kamal Thapa has been trying to buy time for the king. This country will plunge into crisis if the monarchy is removed in haste, he says.

The election was an overwhelming win for republicanism, with the royalist forces seeing a rout, so it can be expected that a referendum wouldn't save the monarchy even if it was tried. Even palace insiders say the king should see the writing on the wall and exit gracefully while there is still time. But they fear his decision may be too little too late.

Jurist Nilamber Acharya dismisses speculation that the king has something up his sleeve. The king is powerless, he has no support from the political parties, the international community, the Nepali people or even the Nepal Army, says Acharya.

Some monarchists advise king Gyanendra to negotiate a deal with the prime minister and the Maoists on his security and a privy purse, and to keep Queen Mother Ratna in her present cottage in the palace, a place she has not left since her marriage to King Mahendra. He can then make a proclamation and step down on the day the new parliament sits.

Acharya and others say the end of the monarchy can be marked by a ceremony in which the royal standard within the palace is lowered and replaced symbolically by the national flag. He adds: Most countries have a republic day, ours could be 15 Jestha.



LATEST ISSUE
638
(11 JAN 2013 - 17 JAN 2013)


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