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Last Updated: Monday, 2 May, 2005, 11:55 GMT 12:55 UK
Communist leader freed in Nepal
Former deputy premier Bharat Mohan Adhikari (L), former prime minister Sher Bahadur Deuba (C) and  Madhav Kumar Nepal (R)
Mr Madhav (R) was held along with other senior politicians
The leader of Nepal's largest communist party has been freed from house arrest, two days after King Gyanendra lifted a state of emergency.

Madhav Kumar Nepal was detained three months ago. His United Marxist Leninists (UML) were in a coalition government dismissed on 1 February.

Hundreds of opposition members were jailed after the royal coup. Most, but not all, have been since freed.

Some mobile phone services have also been restored as restrictions ease.

'No freedom'

Mr Nepal and his colleague, Amrit Bohara, were freed late on Sunday.

"The king may have announced withdrawing emergency rule, but in reality there are still restrictions and many politicians continue to be in jails," Mr Nepal told reporters after being released.

Unless the king gives up direct rule, restores powers back to the people and frees all political prisoners, there can be no dialogue
Madhav Kumar Nepal
United Marxist Leninists

On Monday, the authorities extended the detentions of several political leaders, including Ram Chandra Poudel of the centrist Nepali Congress and Iswar Pokharel of the UML.

"This is only another proof that despite lifting emergency rule there is no freedom and the king is still going after his opponents," Basanta Gautam, a spokesman for the Nepali Congress told the Associated Press.

About two-thirds of the 55,000 post-paid mobile phones in Kathmandu have now resumed operating, officials said on Monday. Mobile services have not been restored outside the capital.

Communications with the outside world were cut when the king seized power.

Landlines and internet connections returned a week after the coup, which the king says was needed to fight an uprising by Maoist rebels.

The authorities suspect the rebels of using mobile phones to pursue their insurgency. Mobile customers have had to register their details for what are being called security reasons.

Protests

On Sunday thousands of people took part in demonstrations to call for the speedy restoration of democracy and the release of all political detainees.

Pro-democracy protest in Kathmandu
Thousands took to the streets on Sunday

In a joint statement, five major political parties said that restrictions on political activities and press freedom were still in place.

Although the state of emergency has been lifted, the king still retains direct power.

The lifting of the state of emergency was welcomed by India which, like the US and Britain, has suspended arms supplies to Nepal.

But there was a mixed reaction from Nepal's opposition parties and legal experts.


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