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Nepal's King Gyanendra Concerned About Stability and Security - 2002-02-19

Nepal's King Gyanendra says he is increasingly concerned about stability and security in Nepal. The king's statement comes just days after Maoist rebels killed 137 people in two attacks in the western part of the country. King Gyanendra is urging Nepal's parliament to extend a three-month state of emergency designed to help army and police forces fight the Maoists.

King Gyanendra's concerns came in a traditional "democracy day" message, issued by the palace in Kathmandu to mark Nepal's 1990 transition from an absolute monarchy to a parliamentary system of government.

Nepal's king says apprehension is growing about peace and security, political stability and good governance. He says Nepal is passing through what he calls a vulnerable stage, and that a three-month state of emergency he approved last November should be extended.

The state of emergency was imposed to help security forces combat a growing Maoist insurgency. More than 2,000 people have died since fighting began more than six years ago.

Nepal's government has been in a state of turmoil following Maoist attacks on Saturday and Sunday in the far western Acham district. The attacks were the deadliest by the Maoists since they began their armed insurgency.

King Gyanendra's statement could help Nepal's prime minister, Sher Bahadur Deuba, get the two-thirds majority in parliament he needs to extend the state of emergency. Some members of parliament say the government ignored warnings the attacks were imminent, and angry lawmakers have disrupted parliamentary proceedings.

The Maoists rebels, who get their inspiration from China's late leader Mao Tse-tung, and from Peru's Shining Path guerrillas, have called a two-day strike for Friday and Saturday to mark the anniversary of the beginning of their armed struggle.