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Friday, 4 October, 2002, 21:19 GMT 22:19 UK
Nepal's king sacks government
King Gyanendra  addresses the nation
The king said he was defending democracy
Nepal's King Gyanendra has dismissed the prime minister and his cabinet, temporarily assuming full executive powers.

The king's announcement on national television came after Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba had failed to arrange elections scheduled for this November.


Incapable to conduct elections as scheduled

King's verdict on prime minister

On Thursday Mr Deuba had asked the king to postpone the elections by one year due to concerns about attacks by Maoist rebels.

Speaking after his dismissal, Mr Deuba said he was "astonished" by the king's decision and predicted it would cause popular discontent.

Nearly 5,000 people have died since the Maoists launched their insurgency six years ago with the death toll soaring after the rebels broke a four-month ceasefire last November.

Policemen killed by rebels in Mangalsen, Nepal, Feb 2002
The rebels have targeted remote police posts

Correspondents say this is the first time a king of Nepal has dismissed a government since multi-party politics were introduced in 1990, replacing a system of absolute monarchy.

"The people of Nepal want democracy and I feel they won't be happy with this decision," Mr Deuba said.

Saying his call for postponing the elections was backed by all political parties, he added that he would call a meeting to discuss their reaction.

The king also postponed the November elections indefinitely.

'Committed'

"We have released Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba, who has been incapable to conduct elections as scheduled earlier, from his post," King Gyanendra said in his TV address.

Prime Minister SB Deuba
Deuba said he was backed by all parties

"The council of ministers has been abolished. The elections set for 13 November have been put off."

But the king stressed that he remained committed to constitutional monarchy and multi-party democracy.

He said he would form a new non-elected interim government of people who would not contest the polls.

He asked the political parties to recommend such people within five days, but did not say when the new government would be installed.

King Gyanendra urged the nation not to be confused or disturbed by his announcement.

Rebel anger

Earlier, the Maoists condemned the government's move to delay the election.

The chairman of the Maoist communist party, Prachanda, said the restoration of parliament ahead of a dialogue was the easy way out to resolve the current crisis.

The rebels have intensified their campaign since emergency rule ended on 28 August, hitting the capital Kathmandu with small bomb blasts and attacking remote security posts.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Mark Maccallum
"Supporters of the ousted prime minister gathered outside his house"
The BBC's Jill McGivering
"The King's surprise announcement came in a national state broadcast"
Background to Nepal's Maoist war

Analysis

Eyewitness

Background:

BBC NEPALI SERVICE
See also:

12 Sep 02 | Country profiles
04 Oct 02 | South Asia
25 Sep 02 | South Asia
11 Sep 02 | South Asia
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