Accessibility links

Nepal's King Reportedly Cancels Plans to Attend UN General Assembly

Reports in Nepal say the country's King Gyanendra has canceled a planned visit to New York later this month, where he was to attend the meeting of the United Nations General Assembly.

Nepalese media say that King Gyanendra has decided against going overseas at this moment because the political situation at home is too precarious. The king seized power by firing the government and imprisoning opposition politicians in February. He said the move was necessary because Nepal's political parties were ineffective at countering a nine-year-long communist insurgency that has wracked the country.

While the crackdown against his opponents has been largely effective, it left the king politically isolated in Nepal, and also in the international community. Foreign governments including that of the United States have objected to his move.

Word of King Gyanendra's decision comes only days after Maoist rebels declared a unilateral three-month ceasefire. Lok Raj Baral, the Executive Chairman of the Nepal Center of Contemporary Studies, says this was likely an attempt by the rebels to deprive the king of his strongest message to the U.N. meeting. "They wanted to outmaneuver the king also, because the king was going to address the United Nations on peace and terrorism," he said. "It's a kind of pre-emptive action on the part of the Maoists."

Mr. Baral says it is also possible the king canceled the New York trip because he feared he might be snubbed by governments that have criticized his royal coup. "Perhaps he expected that he would see some heads of state or government, but that is also not being enthusiastically responded by these countries," he suggested.

So far, the Royal Palace has made no formal announcement about the king's plans, and has not responded to the press reports.

In the capital Kathmandu Tuesday, police clashed with demonstrators in the latest protest against the king's takeover of power. Nepal has been stuck in a political quagmire since then, with the political parties in disarray, and the rebels maintaining their insurgency.

However, the main political parties recently proposed a broad alliance with the Maoists in order to isolate the king and his government. The proposal was conditioned on the rebels renouncing violence, and they did that last week, at least temporarily, in announcing their three-month cease-fire.

More than 10,000 people have died since the communist-led conflict began.