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Last Updated: Saturday, 8 May, 2004, 15:01 GMT 16:01 UK
Nepal protesters ignore PM's move
Protesters celebrate the resignation of Nepal's prime minister Surya Bahadur Thapa
Protesters have taken to the streets daily
The opposition in Nepal has said it will continue to hold daily street protests despite the resignation of the prime minister.

Surya Bahadur Thapa said on Friday he was stepping down and hoped that would allow a national consensus to build.

King Gyanendra, who dissolved the elected government in 2002, said he wanted a new PM with a "clean image".

But the opposition insists the king must go further and appoint a government of national unity.

Nepal's main opposition leader, G P Koirala, said street protests - which have drawn thousands of people onto the streets every day for five weeks - would continue until that happened.

General strike

He also reiterated that a general strike would be called next Tuesday and Wednesday.

"With Thapa's resignation, we won the battle but we've yet to win the war," he said.

One report said at least 10,000 people protested near the king's palace in Kathmandu on Saturday, shouting "Long live democracy, down with absolute monarchy".

Nepalese Prime Minister Surya Bahadur Thapa
Thapa said he hoped his move would help bring "lasting peace"

Announcing his resignation on Friday, Mr Thapa attacked opposition parties for their "stubborn stance".

His 11-month tenure was marked by street demonstrations organised by leading political parties.

The king has reportedly asked Mr Thapa, the second prime minister to be appointed since he assumed executive power in October 2002, to continue in office until a successor is appointed.

Dialogue hopes

A palace spokesman said the king was prepared to hold talks with all opposition groups.

"It is now up to them to come and hold a meeting with His Majesty," he said.

The BBC's Charles Haviland in Kathmandu says the parties have agreed to talk to the king, but will insist that setting up an all-party government and restoring parliament would be the main subjects on the agenda.

They hope that will pave the way for a meaningful dialogue with the country's Maoist guerrillas, who have been waging a war that has claimed some 9,000 lives.

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