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Nepal Reacts to Suspension of Aid


Some Nepalese officials have voiced defiance in the wake of Britain and India's decisions to cut military aid to the kingdom, in reaction to King Gyanendra's dismissal of the government more than three weeks ago. While military leaders have said the suspension will hurt the battle against the Maoist insurgency, the officials say Nepal can fight the rebels without international assistance.

Nepalese officials say the government will increase taxes and mobilize its internal resources to deal with the loss of military assistance from Britain and India. In comments to local media, some officials say the decision could even be a blessing in disguise, because it will help Nepal learn to use its resources more effectively.

There has been no official reaction from Nepal's king about the decision by both countries to stop aid.

On Tuesday, the British government said it had suspended military assistance to Nepal, and it was reconsidering its longer-term policy toward Kathmandu.

The Indian government says it has not sent any military assistance to Nepal since King Gyanendra seized power on February 1. But Foreign Ministry spokesman Navtej Sarna stopped short of calling the decision a formal suspension of aid.

"What I said was that the issue of military supplies is under continuous review, in view of the evolving situation,” said Mr. Darna. “And it is a fact that given the disturbed conditions, no supplies have been delivered since February 1. That is all I said."

King Gyanendra dismissed the government and imposed virtual military rule across Nepal, censoring the media and placing what rights activists estimate to be hundreds of journalists, activists, and political rivals under house arrest or in prison.

The king said he acted because the politicians had failed to organize elections and end a nine-year conflict with Maoist insurgents. King Gyanendra has described his royal proclamation, which may remain in place for three years, as an effort to save Nepal's democracy.

Britain, India and the United States are not convinced. All three have supplied Nepal's government with hundreds of millions of dollars in military hardware or training for its fight against the Maoists.

The group, formally known as the Communist Party of Nepal, has been named a terrorist organization by the United States. It wants to overthrow Nepal's monarchy, and loosely models its movement on the teachings of the Chinese communist leader Mao Zedong.

News reports quote some Nepalese officials saying that the moves to cut off military aid will simply help a terrorist organization.

The United States has not suspended assistance. But it has warned that if the king does not restore democracy to Nepal within three months, both military and humanitarian aid could be at risk.

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