Page last updated at 15:09 GMT, Wednesday, 11 June 2008 16:09 UK

Head to head: Nepal's monarchy

Nepal's newly-elected constituent assembly declared the country a republic on 28 May. Ahead of the vote, two Nepalis debated whether it would be right to abolish the monarchy.


Amar Rajkarnikar
I think that the monarchy in Nepal is more relevant and important than ever today.

I fear that neighbouring countries are interfering in our government and domestic affairs.

At such moments, the nationalist parties should be united. This is not the time to be divided.

The institution of the king has a very long history in Nepal. More than 250 years have passed since the unification of Nepal under the current dynasty - by the forefathers of the current king.

If it hadn't been for this dynasty, we may not have seen our country on the map. So Nepal owes its existence to the monarchy and to this dynasty.

And the monarch has been a force in Nepal for centuries.

I believe the king should stay for the moment - if only to help with drafting the constitution. There is a power void and we need the appropriate power to steer the drafting of this important document - and for this - the monarch should be retained.

Indeed the abolition of our monarchy should be put to a referendum. It should be decided by the people of Nepal.

King Gyanendra has some culpability for the current situation. In the days when he waded into national politics it was purely because of in-fighting between politicians. He had to interfere. But he was working very much as a constitutional monarch.

For the last two years we have seen him very silent.

I think he is a very charismatic king, he is a good writer and he is independent-minded. As a king and as a leader, he is a very good person. We don't have any other good leaders at the moment.

I believe there could be dangers once the monarchy is abolished. So many people in the army still respect the king. I can foresee problems because he commands their loyalty.

The king is considered a symbol of Hindu unity. There is real emotional feeling when we talk about our religion.

The abolition of the monarchy will have a real impact on Nepal's cultural identity. We are the only Hindu kingdom. A large part of our culture is embodied in the king.


Dipendra Tamang
I support the abolition of the monarch because he is no longer a symbol of unity for Nepal.

A lot has changed in the last few years. Our previous king, Birendra, was liked by a lot of Nepalis. But his sudden death changed a lot.

When King Gyanendra, the current monarch, came to power he was not well-liked. But he did nothing to change the perception people had of him. He took way too much power into his own hands and he was too active in running the country.

Are we objecting to this particular monarch or the idea of monarchy? That is a question asked a lot.

Most political parties prefer the idea of a republic. It is not just prejudice against this particular king. His son and heir is not liked by the people either.

We are going through tremendous changes right now. We have to come up with a new form of identity. We have to find something which really unites us all. Nepal is a really diverse country with over 100 dialects and languages - finding a common uniting factor might be hard, but it's not impossible.

All of us Nepalis will have to work together to formulate a common uniting factor in the coming years.

The king lost the argument with all his political interference. On the other hand the Maoists have been successful in elections and in bringing about change.

This is a chance for them to prove themselves as a mainstream political party and not just an underground army or insurgency movement.

The king should just move out. He doesn't have to leave Nepal. He is a big businessman as well. He should be treated just like the rest of us with the rights and responsibilities of a common citizen.

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