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Last Updated: Monday, 19 February 2007, 17:05 GMT
Nepal king 'takes responsibility'
Nepal King Gyanendra
King Gyanendra says he was compelled to seize power
Nepal's King Gyanendra has publicly accepted responsibility for "success and failure" under his direct rule.

The statement comes nearly a year after a popular uprising forced the monarch to give up power to a seven-party alliance backed by Maoists.

King Gyanendra also defended his take-over in February 2005, saying he had been compelled to act.

The king has since been stripped of his powers. Nepalese monarchs have traditionally been regarded as divine.

On Friday, King Gyanendra's motorcade was stoned by crowds as he was on his way to celebrate a religious festival.

'We are morally responsible'

King Gyanendra made his remarks about the royal coup in a traditional Democracy Day message to the nation.

Various obstacles thwarted our resolve to install elected representative bodies
King Gyanendra

"It is clear that the situation compelled us to take the step in accordance with the people's aspiration to reactivate the elected bodies by maintaining law and order," a palace statement said.

"We are also morally responsible for any success or failure during the 15-month effort."

The monarch also urged Nepal's new rulers to hold elections "in a mature manner" to address "the grievances, aspirations and sentiments of all Nepalese people".

The government called the king's statement an unfortunate attempt to cover up his actions.

Maoist leader Prachanda said: "This shows reactionary elements are still trying to wreak havoc in the country and that they might still indulge in one final conspiracy to impose autocratic rule."

Thousands of Maoist demonstrators gathered in the capital, Kathmandu, to show their displeasure at the king's explanations.

King Gyanendra took direct control of Nepal in February 2005 saying that the government had failed to hold elections on time.

But his royalist administration also failed to meet the poll promises, which the king in his address blamed on "various obstacles".

His regime was widely unpopular at home and roundly condemned abroad.

It was blamed for human rights abuses and deterioration in security situation due to the escalation in Maoist violence.

A high-level inquiry last year indicted the king for misusing state funds and excesses against pro-democracy demonstrators, a number of whom were killed in the unrest.

It recommended enacting new laws to punish him.

'Defiance'

The interim constitution introduced last month by the governing seven-party alliance and former Maoist rebels deprived the monarch of all powers.

The prime minister has been given the head of state since then.

The fate of the monarchy is to be decided by constituent assembly elections due to be held by June this year.

The BBC's Sushil Sharma in Kathmandu says King Gyanendra's statement smacks of defiance as the governing alliance and Maoists struggle to keep the momentum of the last year's anti-king uprising.

Democracy Day in Nepal marks the assumption of power in 1950 by the Shah dynasty, led by King Gyanendra's grandfather, King Tribhuban, who ended the 104-year reign of the Ranas.


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