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Annan calls for democratic freedoms in Nepal

Annan calls for restoration of democratic freedoms in Nepal

Urging calm and restraint in Nepal, United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan today expressed grave concern at the actions of the constitutional monarchy of King Gyanendra, which today dissolved parliament, imposed a state of emergency and suspended civil liberties in its efforts to suppress a long-time insurgency.

"The Secretary-General views these actions as a serious setback for the country. He does not believe that they will bring lasting peace and stability to Nepal. Steps should be taken immediately to restore democratic freedoms and institutions." Mr. Annan said through his spokesman, Fred Eckhard.

Mr. Annan also was anxious about the well-being of the Nepalese people and their political leaders, humanitarian workers and journalists, the spokesman said.

Meanwhile, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour also expressed her serious concern today at the decisions taken by King Gyanendra.

She said that when she met the King during her visit last week to the Himalayan kingdom, he reaffirmed his unequivocal commitment to human rights, democracy and multiparty rule.

Ms. Arbour said she expected him to live up to his stated commitment and ensure that the democratic institutions of the State were reinstalled without delay.

In comments made at the end of that trip, the High Commissioner had said the people were being subjected to violence and brutality on a staggering scale as a result of the armed conflict between the government and the Maoist rebels.

She said then that she had made clear in her meetings with the authorities that while she did not underestimate the difficulties faced by the Government of Nepal, the means it used to counter the rebellion "must be lawful and legitimate. They must be in strict compliance with the international humanitarian and human rights laws by which Nepal is bound."

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