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Page last updated at 11:13 GMT, Thursday, 29 May 2008 12:13 UK

The royal flag of Nepal removed

Former King Gyanendra

The royal standard of the monarchy in Nepal has been removed from the former Kathmandu palace of deposed King Gyanendra, officials say.

The move comes after Nepal's new constituent assembly voted late on Wednesday to abolish the monarchy.

The king and his family have been given 15 days to leave the residence.

The abolition of the monarchy was a key demand of the former Maoist rebels who emerged from April's elections to the assembly as the biggest party.

The former king has yet to make any comment on Wednesday's vote.

One prominent newspaper has reported that that Gyanendra is packing his belongings and planning to leave his palace in Kathmandu on Friday.

'Gone for good'

The BBC's Charles Haviland in Kathmandu says that that people in Nepal woke up on Thursday to find that their kingdom has become a republic after 240 years of rule by the Shah dynasty.

Television stations have reported that the royal standard has been replaced by the Nepalese national flag.

In the main English-language papers on Thursday, there is no lamenting the fall of the Shah dynasty.

In the words of one paper, it has been "confined to history" and "gone for good".

Another accuses the family, whose rule encompassed 11 kings, of looting Nepal of its resources, making it one of the world's poorest countries.

Kathmandu crowd celebrates the advent of the republic
Thousands of Nepalis cheered the declaration of the republic

Exuberant anti-monarchists were celebrating in the streets on Thursday after 560 members of the new assembly voted late at night to make Nepal a republic with only four voting against.

The approved proposal states that Nepal is "an independent, indivisible, sovereign, secular and an inclusive democratic republic nation".

Royal privileges "will automatically come to an end", the declaration says.

It also states that the king's main palace must be vacated within a fortnight, to be transformed into a museum.

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The Maoists and other politicians are being conciliatory about the monarch now being ousted and say he should live on in Nepal as a private citizen.

Some militant pro-Hindu and pro-royal factions are campaigning against Nepal's shedding of its royal - and its officially Hindu - status.

The assembly was given the initial task of rubber-stamping the abolition of the monarchy.

But the vote was delayed by 12 hours, while the Maoists and the other main parties settled differences about distribution of power between the president and the prime minister in an interim period.

The government of the new Nepalese republic is expected to be led by the Maoists, who only entered politics in 2006 after signing a peace agreement that ended a decade-long insurgency.

The assembly has two years to come up with permanent arrangements for a new constitution.

The monarchy's fall from grace has come swiftly and was heralded by the 2001 massacre in which the then-Crown Prince Dipendra killed his family and several other royals, our correspondent says.





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