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Last Updated: Thursday, 3 February, 2005, 11:36 GMT
Nepalese king bans press freedom
Nepali police and newspapers
Police in riot gear are everywhere
Nepal's media has been subjected to total censorship, as part of emergency measures announced by King Gyanendra.

Reports critical of the state of emergency declared on Tuesday have been banned for six months, according to a notice in the main daily newspaper.

Phone lines and internet links remain cut, so news of a strike call by Maoist rebels has not reached the public.

The king's new government has told the rebels to return to talks or face other measures. The rebels have yet to react.

It is not clear what the king has in mind if the rebels fail to re-enter peace negotiations.
The king is taking the country back to the Dark Ages
Shovakar Parajuli
Opposition Congress Party

On Wednesday, a spokesman for the Maoists ruled out any possibility of talks with the king.

The rebels had previously refused to hold negotiations with the last government, saying they needed a direct dialogue with the king, but have now condemned the crackdown.

The king's moves have been criticised by the UN, the US, the UK, India and rights groups. He says he had to act as the government failed to protect Nepal from the Maoists.

Meanwhile, the US State Department has advised American citizens against travelling to Nepal, while not banning them from travelling outright.

A planned summit of South Asian leaders has been postponed, after India pulled out mainly because of concerns at the turmoil in Nepal.

Army on streets

On Wednesday, King Gyanendra swore in a new cabinet which he will head himself.

June 2001 - Gyanendra is crowned king following royal massacre
July 2001 - Sher Bahadur Deuba becomes prime minister following Maoist violence
Oct 2002 - King Gyanendra sacks Deuba and assumes executive power
June 2004 - Deuba reappointed prime minister in place of Surya Bahadur Thapa
Feb 2005 - Deuba sacked, king assumes direct power

The BBC's Charles Haviland in Kathmandu says the new measures are the most draconian taken by a Nepalese king since absolute monarchy ended in 1990.

Many basic rights have been suspended, including freedom of assembly, the right to privacy and the right against preventative detention.

Reports say soldiers have been stationed in television newsrooms to vet broadcasts before they are aired.

Our correspondent says soldiers and police in riot gear are everywhere in Kathmandu, particularly near student campuses where protests tend to take place.

However, he says people have been saying they are too afraid to protest because so many fundamental rights have been suspended.

King Gyanendra on Tuesday placed Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba and members of his cabinet under house arrest.

Leading opposition politicians have also been detained. Others are reported to be on the run.

"The king is taking the country back to the Dark Ages," Shovakar Parajuli, leader of the opposition Congress Party, told the Associated Press news agency.

The country's new ministers, some of whom have served in previous governments, are mostly the king's close associates, our correspondent says.

Bleak reports of life in Kathmandu

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