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Nepal's former king hints at a comeback

July 13, 2012 at 6:09 AM   |   Comments

KATHMANDU, Nepal, July 13 (UPI) -- Nepal's former king has hinted he would like to return to the throne -- for the third time.

The deposed Gyanendra Shah, 64, took over as king first in November 1950 after his family including his grandfather, King Tribhuvan, went into exile, leaving the child behind.

But the child-king's rule lasted only 62 days before his family returned and Tribhuvan took over the throne again.

Gyanendra regained the throne in 2001 after what became known as the Royal Nepalese Massacre.

Prince Dipendra killed nine members of his family and himself during dinner at the family residence Narayanhity Royal Palace in Kathmandu, capital of the isolated Himalayan mountain country with India to the south and China to the north.

Gyanendra lasted until a worsening civil war between royalists and Maoist rebels resulted in a peace agreement in 2006 and eventual abolition of the monarchy in 2008.

"To save our nation at these difficult times, a new power should rise. This power could be anything from the previous monarchy to something different," he told news Website Nepal24.

"The people are looking for our role now, they just need to be little patient and soon they'll know about our role."

He didn't make clear if he envisaged a ceremonial role for the monarchy or more active political engagement.

Gyanendra spoke to Nepal24 during his five-day visit to religious shrines in Lumbini, Kapilvastu and Rupandehi, his first trip outside the capital since the end of his reign.

His comments come as the government remains deadlocked with coalition partners and opposition groups over how to rehabilitate and integrate thousands of former rebels into the national army and civilian life.

Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai is hoping to ease into retirement around 7,300 Maoist combatants and integrate another 9,700 into the army.

Around 15,000 people were killed and up to 150,000 people displaced during the decade-long civil war in which the Maoist's Communist Party of Nepal wanted to overthrow the monarchy and set up a republic.

But in November 2006 the Maoists joined other political parties in a peace accord, monitored by the United Nations, in an effort to create a more democratic government.

The 2006 accord, signed by Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala and Maoist leader Pushpa Kamal Dahal, known as Prachanda, allowed the Maoists to take part in government and placed their weapons under U.N. monitoring.

Drafting a new constitution also has remained elusive as well as divisive.

An election is due in November, or before if the government falls after last month's split by a hard-line faction within Bhattarai's governing Unified Communist Party of Nepal.

Mohan Baidhya, leader of the newly created Communist Party of Nepal - Maoist, said Bhattarai has been dragging his feet over drafting a new constitution.

Baidhya also criticized Bhattarai and UCPN Chairman Prachanda for not speeding up the rebels' integration into the army.

© 2012 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
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