DECISION FOR DEMOCRACY: PARLIAMENT ENDS KING'S RULE, TAKES OVER ARMY
By Chiranjibi Paudyal
American Reporter Correspondent
LONDON, England, May 18, 2006 - Nepal's Parliament today passed a historic political proclamation, making the dictator King Gyanendra completely powerless and disconnecting his link to the army, which once supported the king's efforts to plot coups time and again and suppressed Nepal's people for centuries.
Throwing the remnants of dictatorship into the dustbins of history, the parliament also changed the name of the Royal Nepal Army to "Nepal Army' and His Majesty's Government to "Nepal Government."
Now, the King will have no role in state affairs, becoming a purely ceremonial head of state with no role and no power. King Gyanendra, who was forced to give up dictatorial rule, may now be the most powerless head of state in the world - if, indeed, he agrees to accept the supremacy of parliament and the democratic system.
The parliament scrapped the title of "Supreme Commander of the Army" formerly enjoyed by the King and disconnected his link to weapons and force he used to impose his will on Nepal's people through unelected peope known as "Mandales," a term synonymous to Nepalese with hooligans.
The army will be under the government, meaning elected representatives, and all arrangements for the security of the royal palace will be made by the government. There was a battalion of about 5,000 army soldiers in the palace; most of the army's generals ran the Nepalese army on instructions from the palace, turning it into a de facto personal security guard. Now, this practice will be consigned yo the pages of history.
The power of the king to make laws, amend and nullify laws, and regarding succession to throne has been curtailed. The parliament will make any laws related to the palace and succession to the throne, which opens a variety of options regarding the selection of the "future king" if the monarchy should remain in the future.
"Expenditure and facilities for the King shall be as per the decision of the parliament, and his private property and income shall be taxed as per the law," the proclamation stated.
Any of the King's acts may now be questioned in parliament or in court; the Royal Palace Service, which carried out the King's orders and ran his household, has been made part of the civil service.
The controversial Raj Parishad, a privy council of the king, has been dissolved because of its support for the autocracy, and Nepal has been made a secular state apart from the Hindu kingdom.
Even the power of the king to call an end to a session of the parliament at the recommendation of the prime minister has been changed. Now he has no more authority and power to rule the country las he did in the past. The King has lost all his power because of his actions since ascending to the throne in 2001 after a mass murder by a deranged prince killed most of the royal family. The parliament in its historic declaration said:
"With determination to fulfill the peoples' mandate given by the Nepali people in the peaceful joint people's movement, to restore a inclusive state by restructuring the state by formulating new constitution. and to restore sustainable peace through democracy, and constituent assembly," the parliament endorsed the historic change.
Even the royalists Members of Parliament, whio number l ess than half a dozen) voted yes in the 205-member Lower House, which was dissolved by Gyanendra in May 2002 and was only restored last month at the height of a popular movement in which hundreds of thousands of people poured into the streets demanding the end of the King's rule.
This is the end of dictatorial monarchy which has ruled over Nepal for more than 239 years. In fact, the backwardness of the strategically placed and beautiful Himalayan nation is due to the dictatorial monarchy, political observers say.
The development achieved during a short span of time in the democratic era from 1990 to 2002 was significant. The nation made drastic changes despite many problems, difficulties and conspiracies, said finance minister Dr. Ram Sharan Mahat recently.
These are visible everywhere across the country. This reporter, born 200 kilometers west of the Nepalese capital, saw his first automobile at the age of 20, used a telephone only after the establishment of democracy in 1990, attended a secondary school five hours away from home, and saw a doctor only in Kathmandu. During the democratic era, all this became a matter of the history.
If implemented properly, the proclamation is significant achievement in Nepal's history, said a renowned Nepali medical professional living in London.
"This is historic for Nepal and one of the best examples of peaceful movement, that change can be made through peaceful means," Dr. Sampurna Nand Dhungana, living in London, told The American Reporter.
This has proved false the illusion of Maoists that the change can only be possible through armed struggle, and the Western powers' assumption that external support is needed to end dictatorial rule, he said.
Involved in the democracy movement in Nepal for long, Dr. Dhungana said "This is the happiest moment in my life." Such is the feeling of democracy-loving people of Nepal.
The government declared Friday as a public holiday to celebrate the "historic declaration" and there are reports from across the country that people have come to the streets and are celebrating the end of the monarchy's rule.
Rajendra Khetan, a renowned businessman in Kathmandu, told the American Reporter "Parliament being the highest body to mobilize power and the source of sovereign rights shall be the real start of democracy in Nepal."
Kathmandu is in a real victory mood. So are the Nepalese living in London and around the globe. People in London are greeting each others sending congratulatory message through email, telephone and SMS (instant messages).
"I got 20 SMSlast night congratulating me," said Dambar Shrestha, a waiter working in Central London.
"We had party till late last night," said Rakesh Gurung, a security guard in Wembley London. "This is great", he said.
"Now, we are free from dictatorial rule," they added.
Describing the parliamentary proclamation as an "important political document," a diplomat from a major donor country told American Reporter," I had not expected such a big change within a month."
"Last month there was demonstration and killing and the king was all-powerful," he said, adding that "the situation reversed."
"There is no problem of aid and support," he said. "We do not like to impose anything to the new democratic government but we are ready and open for any support to strengthen democracy freedom."
Even the Maoists who launched an armed struggle to end autocracy have said that they welcome the decision.
Now the time has come to start a dialogue with the rebels and resolve the problem of insurgency which has claimed over 13,000 lives since 1996 and displaced over 200,000 people.
There is cease-fire by the state and the Maoists, and the rebels and the government have signed an agreement to end autocracy and hold election to the constituent assembly to write a new constitution.
The political parties and the Maoists should work hand in hand to fulfil the aspirations of the people for full fledged democracy, freedom, peace and development in the beautiful new Nepal.
In a stirring speech, Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala said, "Through peaceful movement, we have been successful in returning sovereign power to the people and establish the people as the sole source of state power."
The 82-year-old veteran Nepal's political life symbolically warned the people of the autocratic mentality, and vowed that of 's people will never accept dictatorship again in their land.
"Each and every word in the proclamation has been written with the martyrs' blood," Koirala said.