Nepal king prays for peace on new year day
Apr 14, 2007 - 1:37:17 PM
Kathmandu, April 14 - As Nepal ushered in its new year Saturday with parties galore to celebrate peace after years of violence and turmoil, King Gyanendra, one of the chief architects of the past instability, said he was praying for the success of the ongoing peace negotiations and strengthening of democracy.
From Saturday, the Himalayan kingdom enters the year 2064 according to its traditional calendar, said to have been formulated by Indian emperor Vikramaditya.
Traditionally, on New Year's day and other important occasions, Nepal's kings used to issue a message to the nation.
This year, however, there was speculation if King Gyanendra would continue with the tradition, given the sea change in the country since he tried to seize power with the help of the army two years ago.
Earlier this year, when the monarch issued a message to the nation on a day celebrated as 'Democracy Day', in which he tried to justify his power grab by blaming the then prime minister for failing to uphold law and order and saying it was what the people wanted, the message created a furore.
Nepal's new parliament was enraged by the message and ordered the government to take action against the king. Legislators said the king had no right to issue such messages since he was no longer the head of state.
After King Gyanendra's'15-month direct rule caused widespread opposition and triggered an anti-monarchy agitation, the king was forced to step down last year.
Since then, a new constitution was promulgated that stripped him of his role as constitutional head of state, giving the position to the prime minister instead. However, despite parliament ordering various measures to axe the palace's power and privileges, the king has continued with his messages.
In his New Year message, the king said he was extending best wishes to all Nepalis and praying for the success of the ongoing peace negotiations.
Ironically, if the peace negotiations between the main parties and the Maoists succeed, Nepal will see a historic election this year when the crown will be put to vote, that could lead to the abolition of monarchy.
However, though the Maoists are campaigning for the abolition of the 238-year-old crown, time and the stars seem to be finally on the king's side.
Though the new government said it would hold the election on June 20, the Election Commission Friday dealt a blow to the plan, saying it needed more time.
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