Nepal's royal family in fresh plot controversy
Mar 13, 2007 - 9:43:23 AM

Kathmandu, March 13 - Nepal's royal family, suspected of masterminding numerous plots ever since king Birendra and his entire family was wiped out in a midnight massacre in the palace six years ago, has now been accused of several more, including trying to kill prominent politicians and fomenting a revolt in the army.

The latest accusations against King Gyanendra and his son, Crown Prince Paras, were flung in parliament Monday by the palace's bitter enemy, the Maoists, who are trying to abolish monarchy and turn Nepal into a republic.

The crown prince, known for his ungovernable temper and arrogance, is at the centre of the accusations with Maoist MPs claming that Paras is spearheading an operation to create disturbances in the country and incite soldiers of the Nepal Army into action against Maoists.

The first charges were made by Maoist MP Lekhraj Bhatt in parliament Monday who told the house that Paras' men were behind last week's bomb scare in the capital when two crude bombs were discovered at the residence of two prominent citizens, Dr Devendra Raj Pandey and Krishna Pahadi, who have been campaigning for a republic.

The explosives were discovered and defused before they could cause any damage and police said they had formed a team to probe the incident.

Bhatt alleges the bombs were planted by Paras' squad, who are also behind other violent activities.

A graver accusation was made by Krishna Bahadur Mahara, Maoist spokesman and chief of the rebels' parliamentary party, who told journalists the palace had allotted Nepali Rs.600 million to assassinate the top political leaders who were campaigning for a republic.

Mahara said as part of the blueprint, royalists had begun distributing a tape in the army barracks to arouse soldiers' animosity against Maoists.

A private TV channel aired parts of the CD, which appears to be a collection of local media reports highlighting Maoist attacks, especially against security forces.

Another Maoist MP, Janardan Sharma, who is also one of the chiefs of the rebels' guerrilla army, handed over a copy of the CD to Speaker Subhas Nembang, saying it had been given by an army contact.

Sharma, better known by his nom de guerre Prabhakar, claimed that the CDs were being distributed in army barracks under the leadership of Paras.

The fresh allegations come after a furore-making remark by Maoist chief Prachanda last week, saying that the palace was plotting to kill top American officials in Nepal to put the blame on the Maoists and derail the peace process.

The accusation has caused a flurry in the American government with the US ambassador to Nepal James F. Moriarty and visiting Under Secretary of State for Management Henrietta H. Fore asking the rebels to share the information with the Nepal government and the US embassy if it was genuine.

The fresh allegations make it one of the darkest times for Nepal's increasingly unpopular royal family that faces the abolition of the crown after a key election in June.

The biggest defender of monarchy, Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala, dealt a severe blow to the palace Monday when he told journalists that the king and the crown prince should step down to create a new avenue and environment.

Holding the king responsible for alienating the people with his 'behaviour, activities and attempts to destabilise' the country, the prime minister, who had been advocating a ceremonial monarch in the past, said Gyanendra himself had paved the way for a republic in Nepal.

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