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Protests In Nepal

Protests which began earlier this month continue in Nepal. The protests were organized by representatives of Nepal's seven leading political parties. According to news reports, police are using rubber bullets and tear gas. Four people have been killed and some eight-hundred arrested.

The protestors are calling for King Gyandendra to restore democracy. In February 2005, the king declared a state of emergency and dismissed the cabinet and parliament. He said politicians had failed to stop a decade-long Maoist insurgency. The state of emergency ended in April 2005, but the king maintains control and continues his restrictions on the press, NGOs, and other civil liberties. Political opponents are harassed and imprisoned.

State Department spokesman Sean McCormack delivered what he called a "very public message":

"As a friend of Nepal, we must state that King Gyanendra's decision fourteen months ago to impose direct palace rule in Nepal has failed in every regard. The demonstrations, deaths, arrests, and Maoist attacks in the past few days have shown there is more insecurity, not less. The king's continuing failure to bring the parties back into a process to restore democracy has compounded the problem."

Mr. McCormack says the United States "calls upon the king to restore democracy immediately and to begin a dialogue with Nepal's constitutional political parties. It is time," he says, that "the king recognized that this is the best way to deal with the Maoist insurgency and to return peace and prosperity to Nepal."

The preceding was an editorial reflecting the views of the United States Government.