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Last Updated: Monday, 15 May 2006, 14:41 GMT 15:41 UK
Landmark Nepal king plans delayed
Celebrations in Nepal
Nepal's king reinstated parliament after mass protests
Political parties in Nepal have postponed landmark plans to curtail the powers of King Gyanendra, including taking away his control of the army.

MPs had been due to discuss the issue on Monday but will now do so later this week, the government says.

The proclamation is expected to override the 1990 constitution, which handed most power to parliament but kept the monarchy involved in politics.

Meanwhile, royalist ex-ministers are being blamed for a budget shortfall.

Addressing the newly-recalled parliament, Finance Minister Ram Sharan Mahat said increased palace and security spending were responsible for the shortfall of more than $100m in the current financial year.

Differences

Cutting the king's powers is a key demand of pro-democracy protesters and Maoist rebels, who began fighting for a republic 10 years ago.

The army will be from now on mobilised by the order of the prime minister and the government
Senior Congress Party spokesman Minendra Rijal

Party leaders met for three hours on Monday, but afterwards said they needed more time to debate the proclamation on royal powers.

"The cabinet is not complete yet. By Tuesday or Wednesday it will be expanded and the expanded cabinet will give a final shape to the draft and it will be presented to parliament," Madhav Kumar Nepal, general secretary of the Communist Party of Nepal (UML), told Reuters news agency.

Another top leader, Narayan Man Bijukchhe, chairman of the Nepal Workers' and Peasants' Party, told reporters that the cabinet would take up the issue after its expansion later in the week.

The BBC's Sushil Sharma says that there have been reports of differences among top leaders over the issue of curtailing royal powers, which they want to sort out before making the final decision.

But our correspondent says that once the move is presented in the parliament, it is certain to be adopted, as the parties represented in the government account for more than 90% of the 205-member chamber.

Legal enforceability

Last month, after weeks of mass demonstrations throughout Nepal, King Gyanendra reinstated parliament and abandoned the direct control he took in 2005.

Proposals being discussed include bringing 90,000 troops under direct control of the parliament and bringing the royal family and its assets under the tax net.

Senior Congress Party spokesman Minendra Rijal told the BBC that one proposal being discussed was a move to change the name of the government from "His Majesty's Government" to "The Government of Nepal".

He said there was a debate over whether the changes would be made under an act of parliament, because such a move may not be legally enforceable.

Parliament has already voted in favour of holding elections to a constituent assembly which could than draft a new constitution and determine the future role of the monarchy.

King Gyanendra had seized power in February 2005 accusing his government of not securing peace talks with Maoist rebels and failing to prepare for elections.




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