Nepal’s King assumes total control
King Gyanendra has sacked the prime minister and his government and assumed direct control over the nation.
That move itself does not amount to much, given that the writ of the king and his erstwhile prime minister did not hold beyond Kathmandu and its environs. The Maoist rebels hold sway over much of the Himalayan kingdom, and recently rebuked a deadline for beginning peace-talks. But what the king does next will determine the fate of the country.
For a start, the king is more a problem than a solution. India must support the king as he battles against the virulent Maoist guerillas; but at the same time, India must not make a ‘Musharraf’ out of him. His claims of indispensability notwithstanding, there is a clear need for an Indian diplomatic intervention that forces the king to snatch the political initiative from the Maoists and usurp their agenda.
India has both a vested interest and a regional responsibility in ensuring that Nepal does not sink into a even deeper quicksand. India should not have allowed the situation to drift to this extent, and now it is already past time that India dealt with the situation in Nepal in a more assertive and forceful manner. Indeed, the first steps for this start right at home, strong measures need to be taken against the criminal-terrorist Maoists that plague large swathes of its own territory.
When assuming absolute powers, the king has set a time-frame of three years. That is way too long. The king must be compelled to put Nepal on the path towards a national and democratic reconciliation immediately. Nepal’s battle for democracy and its battle against the Maoists must run concurrently.
Tailpiece A matter of speculation, but this could be what the king got from the clever men in Beijing in return for closing down the Dalai Lama’s offices in Kathmandu a few days ago.
Update: India has officially responded that it is not impressed with the king’s actions. It must now squeeze the king.