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King of Nepal willing to go quietly

Latest update : 2008-05-31

The deposed monarch of the Himalayan kingdom-turned-republic has reportedly accepted to leave his heavily-guarded palace, where officials have already begun to survey the property as part of plans to turn the building into a museum.

Nepal's deposed monarch is willing to leave his pink-hued palace quietly to begin life as a commoner but wants help with housing and protection for his family, state-run media reported Saturday.
  
"The king has expressed his wish to respect the constituent assembly's historic decision and make a peaceful exit," said Pradeep Aryal, secretary at the now-dissolved Narayanhiti Palace secretariat, The Rising Nepal reported.
  
Aryal made the comment after the palace received a letter Friday formally asking the unpopular ex-monarch to leave for a private residence within two weeks, in line with the newly-elected assembly's vote Wednesday.
  
The body, which will rewrite the Himalayan country's constitution, abolished the 240-year-old Hindu monarchy in a near-unanimous vote and transformed Nepal into a republic -- 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.
  
All eyes have been on the king since then, who is still holed up in his heavily-guarded palace in the heart of the city.
  
The government has asked the king to coordinate his departure with its officials so they can take "appropriate measures" for his security, the report said.
  
But the king is apparently being hampered in his move by worries over what to do with his mother Ratna and 94-year-old great-grandmother Sarala, the state-run daily said.
  
He has suggested it would be easier for him to leave if they were provided with security and housing, the paper said.
  
The royal palace is still guarded by some 1,500 soldiers but Nepal's army -- seen as a bastion of royalists -- has said it will comply with any government orders to withdraw the security cover.
  
The king may also have to look for housing for himself, with his private residence occupied by former crown prince Paras, who is said to be on poor terms with his deposed father.
  
Nepal has been brimming for weeks with rumours over the king's plans, with his every movement -- including a weekend trip to his summer home and a drive to his sister's house for tea -- watched with bated breath.
  
Many ordinary Nepalese say they are delighted to see the back of the dour king as well as his son Paras and would-be heir, widely loathed for his apparent playboy lifestyle in one of the world's poorest countries.
  
Nepal on Friday began auditing property in the now nationalised palace, where the royal flag has been replaced by a new banner.
  
"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," Information Minister Krishna Bahadur Mahara told AFP.
  
The building will later open to the public as a museum.
  
Gyanendra ascended the throne in 2001 after most of the royal family were slain by a drugged and drunk prince, but he failed to win the affectation of the public, many of whom believed he was linked to the killings.
  
His unpopularity deepened when he dismissed the government in a royal coup in early 2005. Mass protests led to a peace agreement in 2006 that saw the king increasingly sidelined.

Date created : 2008-05-31

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