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Last Updated: Saturday, 2 April, 2005, 13:42 GMT 14:42 UK
Nepal ex-PM challenges emergency
United Left Front rally in Kathmandu
Opposition parties continue to resist a ban on rallies
A prominent former prime minister of Nepal has demanded the return of democracy a day after being freed from house arrest by the authorities.

Girija Prasad Koirala said his National Congress party would continue peaceful protests against the seizure of power by King Gyanendra in February.

The three-time prime minister, who is in his 80s, was one of those put under house arrest after the takeover.

He was among some 250 people freed by the new authorities on Friday.

His release came three weeks after similar restrictions were lifted on Nepal's most recent Prime Minister, Sher Bahadur Deuba.

Human rights groups say several hundred people remain under arrest but the government has not given details.

Civil disobedience

Addressing his first news conference after being released, Mr Koirala demanded the restoration of fundamental rights and asked for the release of all those detained after the royal takeover.

Girija Prasad Koirala speaks after his release
Koirala leads the largest party in Nepal

He called for the creation of an all-party government to hold peace talks with Maoist rebels.

The king has justified his takeover by accusing the government of failing to tackle the Maoist armed rebellion.

He called on his party workers to join a "satyagraha" - a civil disobedience movement made popular by Mahatma Gandhi - to press king Gyanendra to give up his absolute powers.

Mr Koirala said his party was committed to constitutional monarchy in the country despite the recent political upheavals.

However he hinted that things would not remain the same if the king continued to usurp people's fundamental rights.

The former prime minister said reinstating parliament was the only way of resolving the current political impasse.


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