Nepalese King Calls for Formation of Interim Government



Following days of anti-monarchy protests, Nepal's King Gyanendra has called upon opposition parties to appoint a new prime minister, who will head an interim government until elections are held next year. But that political compromise offered by the king may do little to stop rallies from continuing.

King Gyanendra says he wants to give political power back to the people.

Speaking on state television Friday, the king called on Nepal's seven main opposition parties to help form an interim government.

The king says he calls upon the seven-party alliance to recommend a name for the post of prime minister to head a council of ministers, as soon as possible, which will govern the country in accordance with the constitution.

The king added that his government will continue to rule, until the new prime minister is named. Parliamentary elections are planned for next year.

The king's concession may do little to quell a wave of anti-government protests, by people angry at the king's seizure of power in February last year. The king justified his move by saying Nepal was at risk of becoming a failed state.

On Friday, tens-of-thousands of people returned to the streets of the capital, on the 16th straight day of anti-monarchy rallies. Many gathered in the suburb of Kalanki, where police killed four demonstrators Thursday. They lit incense and placed flowers in tribute to the protesters who died. They also burnt straw effigies of the king.

For many, like protester Nischal Khanal, the only solution for Nepal's political crisis is for the king to step down.

"There is no compromise for the king," he said. "He had options for the last two years, but, now, there is no option…. We don't want him as a king in this country. He has to leave the country. That's it."

Nepal's mainstream opposition parties have called a general strike to pressure the king to relinquish his control of government. Fuel and some food in the capital is in short supply.

At the same time, the government has imposed a series of day-long curfews - with a shoot-on-sight order issued to police - to prevent demonstrations. But those orders have not been strictly enforced.

The international community had also been pressuring King Gyanendra to make a political compromise. India sent a senior envoy to meet with the king to offer assistance to resolve the political stand-off. The U.S. ambassador warned that the king could be forced to leave the country, if he did not reach a political compromise with the opposition.

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