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Last Updated: Saturday, 7 July 2007, 14:45 GMT 15:45 UK
Clashes mar Nepal king's birthday
Nepal's King Gyanendra
King Gyanendra has lost many of his powers
Festivities to mark the 60th birthday of Nepal's King Gyanendra have been marred by violence in Kathmandu.

Nine people, including two police officers, were hurt when the king's supporters were attacked by members of the Youth Communist League, police say.

The unrest followed an opposition rally near the palace, where the king is holding three days of celebrations.

Government ministers and foreign diplomats have boycotted ceremonies marking the occasion.

King Gyanendra took the throne in 2001 after a palace massacre, when the then crown prince is reported to have killed his parents, most members of the royal family and himself.

In 2005 he sacked the government and took absolute power, but last year was forced to hand power back to political parties after a wave of pro-democracy street protests.

The republican Youth Communist League has accused the king and his supporters of exploiting the celebrations to try to become politically active again.

Many foreign dignitaries, including those from India, the US and the EU, will not attend the birthday receptions.


The king's birthday marks a personal milestone for Nepal's ruling Shah dynasty - never before in the 240-year history of the royal family has a reigning monarch lived to the age of 60.

But many of Nepal's new political leaders, including the former Maoist rebels, now want the monarchy abolished.

Prime Minister GP Koirala has suggested that the royal family should remain, but only if the king and his unpopular son, Paras, abdicate.

Already the king has lost his powers as head of state and head of the army.

He has been forced to pay tax for the first time, and ordered to keep a low profile. The BBC's Mark Dummett, in Kathmandu, says on the few occasions the king has made public outings in the past year, he has faced accusations of stirring up trouble for the government.

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