A Royal Decree

Nepali Times issue #197 21-27 May 2004

Twenty years ago this week, our front page story delved into king Gyanendra’s deep personal distrust of the political parties and what could be the possible outcome of this standoff. Unbeknownst to us all, he would go on to appoint Sher Bahadur Deuba as the prime minister one more time only to strip him of his position and declare him incompetent, ban all political parties and pull off a coup on 1 February 2005.

Now, after all these years, there is a call for the return of the same king by monarchists. Excerpts of a report published on issue #197 21-27 May 2004:

Suspicion holds the populace in limbo even as the polity dips into a tailspin: the economy, state activity and development work lie in tatters. The major road arteries are blocked, Kathmandu Valley and the business centres are cut off and the army and Maoists prepare for a confrontation that will extend far beyond the coming monsoon.

The political solution that could provide a nikas with the insurgents, which can only come from an all-party government coupled with the revival of the parliament, seems to be remote as the king keeps the parties at arm’s length.

The origin of the royal distrust is unclear, but it is obvious that King Gyanendra regards the parties as dens of venal politicians, both corrupt and inept. This belief jives with the conviction of certain sections of Kathmandu society, that the politicians ran the country to the ground after 1990.

Is the king focussing on well-publicised malfeasance of a few to tar the rank and file of the political parties?
Whether there was failure of democracy under parliamentary rule

remains a matter for debate and not the basis on which an unelected entity can take decisions for the people. In the sliding scale of corruption and mal-governance, the politicians are asking where the parties stand in relation to the three-decade-long Panchayat system, as well as the 19 months of the king’s rule-by-nomination (during which period there has been no accounting of public expenditure).

For archived material of Nepali Times of the past 20 years, site search: nepalitimes.com

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