KATMANDU, 3 February 2005 — King Gyanendra announced a 10-member Cabinet dominated by his own supporters yesterday, one day after he dismissed Nepal’s government, declared emergency rule and virtually cut his nation off from the world. An official later said the new government would reach out to the country’s Maoist rebels to renew peace talks.
Dozens of politicians have been arrested and many more have gone underground to avoid detention, an opposition figure said, as extra riot police and soldiers patrolled the streets of the capital, Katmandu, where civil liberties were severely curtailed.
World leaders condemned the power grab — Gyanendra’s second in three years — saying it undermined democracy and the fight against the insurgency. The United Nations, Britain, India and the United States were among the critics of Gyanendra’s actions. Australia and New Zealand advised their citizens not to visit Nepal. UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan called the king’s actions “a serious setback” that would bring neither lasting peace nor stability to Nepal and urged him to take immediate steps to restore “democratic freedoms and institutions.”
Gyanendra will head the newly appointed Cabinet, state radio said in a report that gave few details other than the new body’s members.
“The king has expressed confidence that everyone will support and cooperate with the new Cabinet,” the palace said in a statement.
Shortly after the king swore in his new Cabinet, Home Minister Dan Bahadur Shahi said the government would soon be approaching the Maoist rebels to renew talks.
“The king has the chief executive authority now, so it will be easier for the rebels to come for peace talks. It is what they have been wanting,” Shahi said in comments carried on state radio. The king on Tuesday sacked Deuba’s interim government, accusing it of failing to hold parliamentary elections or control the Maoist insurgency and pledging to do both himself within three years.
Police began arresting politicians on Tuesday when the king declared emergency rule and continued the arrests yesterday, said Shovakar Parajuli of the Nepali Congress party.