The United States and the European Union have recalled their ambassadors from Nepal for consultations.

U.S. Ambassador James Moriarty will brief Washington on how to support the Nepalese people's quest for democracy, peace and prosperity.

Also on Monday, India urged the king to restore multi-party democracy and media freedom, and to release all political prisoners, including journalists and human rights activists.

King Gyanendra, meanwhile, tried to consolidate his absolute power in Nepal by appointing two former royalist prime ministers (Kirtinidhi Bista and Tulsi Giri) to top positions in his cabinet.

Maoist rebels are protesting with a nationwide blockade of traffic, causing prices of food, fuel and medicines to go up.  They say their blockade will continue until the king reverses his February 1 dismissal of the government and declaration of an emergency.