Nepal king breaks silence for peace

Nepal's King Gyanendra has expressed hopes that a fragile peace process in the Himalayan nation will succeed.

    King Gyanendra is seeking to reconnect with the people

    In his first public comments since ceding political power in April, the king invoked the Hindu goddess of power to guide Nepal through what he called a difficult period.
       
    "May Goddess Nava Durga Bhavani inspire us all to move ahead on the strength of national unity and reconciliation at this difficult juncture in our history," the 59-year-old king said on Monday in his traditional message for Dasain, the biggest festival in the Hindu nation.
       
    The message was circulated by the state-run RSS news agency and excerpts were read on state radio.
       
    King Gyanendra, who has had no role to play in the peace process and has rarely been seen in public since April, joined a chorus of voices hoping for reconciliation between political parties and Maoist rebels.
       
    Weeks of violent protests in April forced Gyanendra to end nearly 15 months of absolute rule and hand power to a seven-party alliance that organised the protests and which was supported by the Maoist rebels.

    Conciliatory gesture
       
    There was no immediate response to his comments from the government or the Maoists. But analysts said the king was apparently reaching out to both.

    Violent protests forced King
    Gyanendra to cede powers

    "He has realised the importance of the changed political context and wants to survive by sending a gesture of compromise with political parties and the Maoists," said Lok Raj Baral of the Nepal Centre for Contemporary Studies, a private think-tank.
       
    "He has come out with a conciliatory gesture. But it is too late for him."
       
    The new government and the rebels, fighting since 1996 to topple the monarchy, have been observing a ceasefire since April and have resumed peace talks that collapsed in 2003.
       
    The Maoists and the government are also preparing to hold elections for a special assembly next year to prepare a new constitution that will decide the future of the monarchy.

    SOURCE: Reuters


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