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All eyes on palace for Nepal king eviction

Latest update : 2008-05-30

Hindu 'god-king' Gyanendra got a two-week eviction order after an historic assembly abolished the Nepalese monarchy. Celebrating revellers skirmished with police Thursday on the road to the palace. FRANCE 24's Kapil Tamot reports from Kathmandu.

Nepal's government said Friday it has started an audit of palace property after an historic assembly abolished the monarchy and gave Hindu 'god-king' Gyanendra a two-week eviction order.
   
The ousted king has kept a studied silence behind the high walls of his pink-hued Narayanhiti palace, although the royal flag has come down from over the heavily-guarded complex.
   
"An official letter has been dispatched from the government asking Gyanendra Shah to vacate the palace," Information Minister Krishna Bahadur Mahara told AFP.
   
"A high-level committee has been formed to prepare the details of the property inside the palace. All the property will be transferred to national property," he added.
   
A constitutional assembly, dominated by former rebel Maoists, voted late Wednesday to abolish Gyanendra's 240-year-old Shah dynasty -- capping a peace process that ended a decade-long civil war.
   
Some 13,000 people were killed in the insurgency launched by the Maoists in 1996 to install a communist republic in the world's only Hindu kingdom.
   
The royal palace in Kathmandu is set to be turned into a museum.
   
An estimated 1,500 soldiers guard the king, but Nepal's army -- seen as a bastion of royalists -- said they will comply with the decision.
   
For now, the palace and its surrounding roads are heavily guarded by riot police. Demonstrations have been banned, but revellers celebrating Nepal's new republican status skirmished with police Thursday on the road leading to the complex.
   
Nepal has been brimming for weeks with rumours over the king's plans, with each and every departure from the palace in recent days -- including a weekend trip to his summer home and a drive to his sister's house for tea -- watched with bated breath.
   
Gyanendra, considered by loyalists to be a reincarnation of a Hindu god, ascended to the throne in 2001 after most of the royal family were slain by a drugged, drunk, lovelorn and suicidal prince.
   
But the new king failed to win the support of the public, many of whom believed conspiracy theories linking him to the killings.
   
His unpopularity deepened when he sacked the government and embarked on a period of autocratic rule in early 2005. Mass protests led to a landmark peace agreement in 2006 that led to the king being increasingly sidelined.
   
Many ordinary Nepalese are delighted to see the back of the dour, unpopular king as well as his son and would-be heir, Paras -- who is widely loathed for his reported playboy lifestyle in one of the world's poorest countries.
   
International reaction to the monarchy's demise has focused on calls for Nepal's government to end months of political in-fighting and concentrate on lifting the mountainous, landlocked country out of poverty.
   
While the United States is not yet prepared to strike the Maoists from its terrorist blacklists, Washington has reversed its previous policy of not talking with the group's leaders.
   
Britain, Nepal's former colonial ruler, sent its congratulations after the assembly's first session.
   
Foreign Office Minister Mark Malloch Brown called it "another step toward the democratic and stable future that the people of Nepal justly deserve."

Date created : 2008-05-30

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