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Last Updated: Wednesday, 7 December 2005, 17:24 GMT
Nepalese king reshuffles cabinet
King Gyanendra
King Gyanendra of Nepal has reshuffled his cabinet for the third time since seizing direct power in February.

The king dropped several key ministers, including those in charge of interior and finance, and named 18 new faces. No reason was given for the changes.

Observers believe the move is unlikely to avert criticism of the king, who is at odds with the opposition and has been unable to end a Maoist rebellion.

Major opposition parties say they plan to step up protests against the king.

"This will not address the political problems of the country. It will rather complicate the situation," Reuters quoted Ram Chandra Poudel, general secretary of the Nepali Congress, as saying.

"Our protest programme will continue," Mr Poudel said.

The king plans local elections next February, and has promised parliamentary elections by April 2007.

Opposition parties say they will boycott any elections conducted by a government they call "unconstitutional".

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