A historic decision was taken by the Nepalese Parliament on May 18, by which Nepal'sKing Gyanendra has been stripped of much of his powers and privileges by the Parliament that he recently reinstated, leaving the king a ceremonial monarch.
Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala, sworn in by Gyanendra less than three weeks ago, on May 18, presented the declaration to the Parliament that also makes Nepal a secular state, no longer a Hindu kingdom.
The King is removed from the supreme commandership of the army, which is now known as the Nepal Army, not the Royal Nepal Army. The Prime Minister is now in command and the cabinet chooses the army chief.
King Gyanendra loses his tax-free status and is subject to the law, which means he could be ordered to testify in court or before the Parliament.
The Parliament has taken over control of the purse strings and will determine the King'sbudget.
Politicians say the proclamation overrides the Constitution and reflects the will of the people and, therefore, cannot be challenged.
?It reflects the aspirations of the people and respects the sacrifices of the people who were martyred during the movement,? Koirala said, according to Reuters, as he tabled the resolution, referring the mass protests against King Gyanendra.
?Now no one can dare to underestimate this. I urge people to remain alert and rise against anyone who tries to interfere in this and undermine this,? Koirala said, speaking in Nepali.
Nepal citizens will also soon be singing a different tune, as the declaration calls for a change in the country'snational anthem.
Analysts have expressed doubts over the effectiveness of the new proclamation, as no Parliamentary bill can become law until the head of state?the King?signs it.
But politicians say the proclamation overrides the Constitution and reflects the will of the people and therefore cannot be challenged.
They also say the King would have no powers and the proclamation would not need his approval.
?If anyone tries to dishonour this, they will be digging their own grave,? former Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba told Parliament.
A dramatic change took place in Nepal on April 24, night when King Gyanendra reluctantly agreed to the restoration of the Parliament, which was dissolved in May 2002.
Shri Girija Prasad Koirala, elected by the seven-party alliance, was sworn in as Prime Minister in the Royal Palace. Six ministers were added a few days later and they took the oath in the Singha Durbar and not in the Palace. Shri Koirala also declined to be sworn for the Raj Parishad (Privy Council), as the new government intends to dissolve it, which is composed of all royalists.
The new government withdrew the order declaring the Maoists as terrorists and two important Maoists leaders have already been released. It is most likely that the others in Nepali prison will also be released soon. The demand of the Maoists to release their men in Indian jails will be a little difficult, if there were serious charges against them. The Indian law courts will have to decide about it.
The government has invited the Maoists for a dialogue and Prachanda, Supreme leader of the Maoist, has also agreed for peace talks and has published the road map for the same. There are, however, certain controversial issues like the dissolution of the Parliament and the present 1990 Constitution, setting of interim Government, which may delay the dialogue between the two sides.
There are reports that the Maoists are still collecting money in the districts as extortion, which they call ?donations?. They are organising big meetings in the districts and will most likely hold a big rally in Kathmandu valley. The influence of the Maoists is increasing not only in the districts but in the functioning of the Central Government. The security aspect of Indo-Nepal border is also involved and India has to take special care of the long 1700-kilometer border.
The expansion of the cabinet has not been possible during the last two weeks because of internal differences in the democratic political parties. The Maoists are taking advantage of it and fishing in the troubled water. The Royalists are completely frustrated and do not have any action plan in the near future. Four ministers of the King Gyanendra government have been arrested and several senior officials of the previous government have been suspended for their alleged act of misuse of authority. The ministers have approached the Supreme Court and it has issued show cause notice to the government to furnish reasons for their detention.
The government had decided that the Parliament would make a proclamation on May 15, which would limit the power of the King and bring the army under the control of the Parliament. The leaders of seven-parties could not come to a consensus after five hours of discussion and the decision was postponed. It was said that after expansion of the cabinet, the final decision will be taken. A handful of youths demonstrated outside Singha Durbar and burnt a number of cars on May 16, and pressed the government to take an immediate decision in the matter. The government decided to hold the cabinet meeting on May 17, to approve the proclamation, which has been adopted by the Parliament on May 18.
It is not known as to who the demonstrators were as the Maoists have denied their participation. They are said to have shouted pro-monarchy slogans. They also shouted slogans against Sher Bahadur Deuba and alleged that he wanted the King to continue as the Supreme Commander-in-chief of the army.
There is general feeling in the minds of those who are aware of Nepal situation that the political parties because of the internal contradictions will not be able to stand up with the disciplined, united and decisive Maoists.
It is being said that the government proposes to suspend Shri Pyar Jung Thapa, present army chief. It is a very serious matter and will have far reaching consequences.
The Indian government is also worried at the fast developments. Security of the 1700 kilometres long Indo-Nepal border is the top priority. The reported link of the Nepali Maoists with the Indian Naxalites is also causing concern. Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal and Uttaranchal state governments are reported to be taking special notice of the situation developing on their border with Nepal.
It is also agreed that Shri Girija Prasad Koirala, who was unanimously elected leader of seven-party alliance, be given all support by the Government of India and others to enable him to resist undue pressure of the Maoists.
It is gratifying to note that Shri Madhav Nepal of CPN-UML party has publicly ruled out the immediate dissolution of the Parliament (as demanded by the Maoists) till some alternative mechanism is developed.
Nepal is passing through a critical period and the democratic political parties have to maintain solidarity and unity to face the Maiost pressure.