Thousands of demontrators have marched through the Nepalese capital, Kathmandu, to demand the restoration of democracy and the withdrawal of strict new media laws.

Human rights activists, journalists, lawyers, teachers and students chanted slogans protesting restrictions on the media that allow the royal government to shut down newspapers and radio stations. The new laws also call for longer prison sentences for journalists convicted of defamation.

Criticism of King Gyanendra and independent reporting on Nepal's Maoist insurgency have been banned since the king seized absolute power on February 1.

The Maoists have been fighting since 1996 to replace Nepal's constitutional monarchy with a communist state. The king says his move was necessary to quell the insurgency, which has claimed more than 11,000 lives.

Some information for this report provided by AP and Reuters.