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Wednesday, 6 June, 2001, 14:58 GMT 15:58 UK
Nepal crisis: Daniel Lak quizzed
To watch coverage of the forum, select the link below:
Public anger has been growing in Nepal over the lack of a convincing explanation for the killings of most of the royal family last weekend.
King Birendra, his wife and two of their children were shot dead in still unexplained circumstances. The Crown Prince, Dipendra, died later in hospital.
Initial reports that Dipendra had shot his family and then himself were later denied by an official statement, which spoke of a sudden discharge of a weapon inside the palace.
Police are out in force and curfews are in place following rioting in the streets of the capital, Kathmandu.
What is going on? How dangerous is the situation for Nepal's stability? Is the new king in control?
Our correspondent Daniel Lak took your questions in a live forum from Kathmandu.
Highlights of transcript:
We are now into Wednesday here in Kathmandu. It is late in the afternoon and today has been the most calm day so far since the weekend - since Sunday and the traumatic events that have really gripped this nation, paralysed it and plunged it into grief.
A lot of Nepalese thought that this commission was the way out of the worst of the crisis here. After all people were in the streets clamouring for the truth and even those who weren't in the streets - the vast majority of Nepali people - they wanted to know what had happened as well. So this commission was seen as a way to get the bottom of things. King Gyanendra, when he announced the members on Monday night, said they would report back to him within three days. That time is going to elapse either tomorrow or Friday depending on how you count the days and so far it is looking as if the commission will only have two full-time members. Perhaps though there is a glimmer of hope, perhaps the UML - the United Marxist-Leninists opposition communist party - will participate in some way or another because Mr Madhav Kumar Nepal has told BBC Radio that there is a chance that they can resolve their dispute before the report is due.
I think that the inquiry commission will want to talk to the survivors as soon as possible and now that at least two of them are out of danger and some were only slightly injured or not so gravely injured to begin with - they will probably be the prime source of information for getting the truth out on this. I think this will all be done quite privately as well because frankly the last thing I suppose that Nepal needs at the moment is every survivor or their family holding a press conference. It is going to take a few days before we really get to the bottom of this and hear what the survivors have to say.
If you look back into history here in Nepal, the affairs of the royal family - both good and bad - have been surrounded by a great deal of secrecy. In a way it was thought that that would preserve the dignity of the royal family - that if too many people knew every aspect of their privacy well then perhaps they would be less dignified. But in another way it also covered up some historic events that might have best been left out in the open. There is a feeling growing amongst certainly people in Kathmandu that I have been talking to that maybe a more open information oriented society will come out of this. Let's just wait and see.
My experience is that rarely is a conspiracy theory true. There may be a small element of truth in it - there may be a notion in it that isn't totally accurate but I think that almost always in these horrific events that happen in this part of the world - in Nepal and in other countries in South Asia - the most obvious explanation tends to be the most true.
I am not sure what is going to come out of this inquiry. I think that probably we need to look back to the initial reports that were coming out when the palace killings came out into the public sphere early on Saturday morning - we had plenty of reports then based on insider sources who were saying that they thought that the then Crown Prince Dipendra was responsible. Other versions came out from the government - they said that there had been a sudden discharge of an automatic weapon and then a palace official told BBC News there had been an accident and then there has been complete silence - quite sensibly because King Gyanendra has called for an inquiry. All now rests on the shoulders of that inquiry. We have to see what they have to say.
So I think the protesters who were out on Monday were there for a number of reasons. There were some that were angry and chanting slogans against King Gyanendra, there were some who were chanting slogans his son, Paras Shah. There were some that were chanting slogans against the prime minister, Mr G P Koirala. He has been in a position of unpopularity with some people in this country for quite some time for various reasons that pre-date and have nothing to do with the massacre. There were also people chanting slogans against India. We have seen in Nepal over the years a great deal of feeling against India when times get tough - when there is a challenge to something that the Nepalese hold dear - there is usually somebody who pops up who blames India. My experience is though Nepalese/India relations aren't always the rosiest and that things sometimes do go astray. By and large, India is not responsible for the vast majority of Nepal's problems and this is certainly true here I think.
So let's just look at what the situation is and let's wonder if the protesters aren't mostly motivated by frustration that the actual truth isn't get out. A lot of them were young men - Kathmandu has quite a few unemployed or under employed young men who have gone onto the streets before. We have seen it in the past during riots in December against alleged, non-existent comments about Nepal by the India actor Hritik Roshan - three days of riots that paralysed the city for nothing. I think that this is probably a similar case here. The people out there were frustrated - some of the people were looking for trouble. Some of them were actually concerned that the new king wasn't the man they wanted. But the fact that we haven't seen any violence all day today and for most of the past two days, I think, is quite encouraging.
But Alexander if you are still here, I would give some careful thought to moving around the country as a tourist for the time being. Now you are in Kathmandu - there is a lot of things to see and do here so perhaps you should content yourself with those. You should pay attention to the newspapers, listen to BBC Radio, look at BBC Online every chance you get in an internet café. We will try to keep you up to date to tell you whether or not you can move. But I repeat if you are going to travel around Nepal, this is probably not the time to do it. That time will come again - it is getting calm again out there. Right now stay put, collect information and be careful.
Now the question of whether or not the Nepalese people will support him - well time will tell. I am not so sure they don't right now. I am not so sure there isn't a majority of Nepalese people out there who do want calm restored, questions answered and their fears dealt with. I think that they liked his speech on Monday night after he was enthroned. They liked the fact he called a commission of inquiry. They probably liked the fact that he said he was a firm supporter of constitutional democracy and he was a firm supporter of the constitutional monarchy of Nepal - in other words, the current order, the current constitution.
King Gyanendra, from everything I have seen in profiles of him in the press here and the people I have spoken to who know him - he is seen as a capable fellow, an able pair of hands, a man with a record in conservation and who has also some role in the Nepalese state in the past. I am sure the Nepalese will give him a chance. But it is going to be very tough. This is the worst crisis the Nepalese state has faced in a long time.
King Birendra was loved, especially in the latter years of his reign because of the way he handed over power to the democrats - the multi-party democrats - in 1990l after a street uprising that could have got much more violent. His father, King Mahendra, who ruled until 1972 was pretty much an absolute monarch and was also loved by the people. He constructed a number of public works projects and was well regarded. That is not to say that everything the Nepalese monarchy ever did went down well with the people but by and large I think even most people in the elite here and people with a liberal education, they think the monarchy is what unified them the most. That is why I suppose in the long run if King Gyanendra does the right things by the country and convinces the people of his sincerity, they will get behind him.
But I think we will know fairly soon and I think people will start to come to realise that there is a version of events that is as close to the truth as possible. It may have some gaps in it - we may miss some of the emotional drama that had been filled in perhaps a little too enthusiastically by some of my colleagues. But we will know I think why, or at least if not why then how the deaths on Friday occurred. Some of these truths will be uncomfortable, probably for the people of Nepal. It is hard to imagine that they will be anything else. The reality of what happened on Friday night, once it hit home here, produced incredible reactions of grief - they are still going on.
Behind us is the main street of Kathmandu and just outside to our right is the main street of Kathmandu and the royal palace. People are still queuing up to sign condolence books. They did that on the first day after the tragedy and they are now doing it again after the curfew has been lifted. There are shrines all over town. Just outside my own home is a well - a public water spout where people draw water. It has been made into a impromptu shrine with pictures of King Birendra and Queen Aishwarya. So people want to know everything they can and it is going to take time. The patience of the Nepalese people has always been legendary and I think this is one of their strongest attributes now.
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