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Restoring Democracy To Nepal

On April 25th, thousands of people took to the streets of Nepal’s capital, Kathmandu, and other cities to celebrate the restoration of the country’s parliament. King Gyanendra announced that the lower house of parliament, the House of Representatives, which was dissolved in May 2002, would reconvene on April 28th.

The announcement came after weeks of demonstrations, unrest, and a general strike called by an alliance of seven opposition parties. “It is the victory of the people’s movement,” said Arjun KC, a senior leader of the Nepali Congress party. State Department deputy spokesman Adam Ereli says the U.S. stands with the Nepali people:

“The United States has been outspoken, ever since the King [Gyanendra] took over power last year, on the need to respect the constitution, respect the rule of law, respect the rule of the people. That is a principle that applies to Nepal as much as it applies anywhere. And it is a principle that we stand firmly behind when it is challenged.”

The seven-party alliance chose former prime minister Girija Prasad Koirala to be the new head of government. Krishna Prasad Situla, spokesman for the Nepali Congress Party, the largest party in the alliance, says, “the main agenda of this reinstated parliament will be to hold elections to a constituent assembly. . .” Nepal’s Maoist insurgents have denounced the seven opposition parties for accepting a resolution of the crisis.

Some twelve-thousand people have been killed since the Maoist insurgency began in 1996. Many Nepalis are tired of violence, unrest, and repression and want a complete restoration of democracy and their human rights. “The people have done their part,” said Rajendra Sahi, a Nepali college student, “now it is the leaders who need to do theirs.”

In a statement on April 24th, State Department deputy spokesman Adam Ereli called on King Gyanendra to “hand power over to the parties and assume a ceremonial role in his country’s governance.” Mr. Ereli said the Maoist insurgents “must end their violent attacks and join the political process.” “Nepal’s political parties,” he said, “must step up to their responsibilities and cooperate to turn the people’s demand for democracy and good governance into reality.”

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