Nepal Call For Elections Too Little, To Late
Nepal’s King Midnight Call For Elections Too Little, To Late
By Michael Van De Veer
April 15, 2004
KATHMANDU, NEPAL: At midnight from the Royal Palace King Gyanendra broadcast his annual New Year’s Message to a sleeping nation.
The King restated earlier promises to hold general Elections in April 2007, called for the “active participation of all parties,” said that “Democracy demands restraint and all forms of extremism are incompatible with democracy.”
There was no mention of the Maoist insurgency that has claimed more than 13,000 lives since the inception of the People’s War in 1996 and which now controls large sections of the country, or of the ongoing demonstrations by the 7-Party Alliance to restore democracy and create a Republic.
The King called for dialogue with all parties and said “ may the efforts at ensuring sustainable peace and meaningful democracy in the interest of the nation and the people bear fruit during the New Year.”
Against a background of massive and growing nationwide demonstrations that have paralyzed the country and are being supported by almost all sectors of Nepalese society there was hope the King would provide some meaningful message that would stop the daily bloodshed.
With the condemnation of unrestrained violence against the demonstrations from the EU, US, Canada, and India among others including, human rights organizations, and the United Nations, the cancellation of a high level US mission headed by US House of Representatives, Dennis Haster (R-Il) “due to ongoing violence, curfews, and widespread insecurity in Nepal,” and the US Embassy in Kathmandu cutting staff to a minimum while urging Diplomat’s families in Nepal to consider leaving the strife ridden country, Nepal seems to be headed toward all-out civil war.
Police-Riots have taken as many as 4-lives and caused many injured to disappear after having been thrown in police vehicles. Unrestrained violence has included the indiscriminate firing of live and rubber bullets into peaceful demonstrations, gouging the eye out of a demonstrator being treated by medical staff, entering of private homes and businesses, looting, launching tear-gas, shooting children at point-blank range as they huddled in their school, beating disabled and street-children, arresting tourists, and constant baton attacks. The pro-Democracy demonstrators are in no mood to accept anything less than the restoration of Parliamentary Democracy and the end to the autocratic rule instituted by the Monarch on Feb.-1, 2005.
The first reactions to the King’s address by the pro-Democracy demonstrators are summed up by the statement of one young member of the Nepali Congress., “This is the same thing we heard before. We demand the immediate and unconditional restoration of democracy, and the establishment of a Republic. This is too little too late.”
D. Michael Van De Veer-Freelance
Contributor to UnitedWeBlog,
& Pacifica’s Free Speech Radio News
Member South Asian Journalist Association (SAJA)
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