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Nepal Declares State of Emergency

The following is an editorial reflecting the views of the United States government:

On February 1st, Nepal's King Gyanendra dismissed the country's government, declared a state of emergency, and assumed all executive powers. In doing so, the king said the government had failed to hold elections and to quell a Maoist insurgency. The rebels have been trying for nearly a decade to overthrow the Nepali constitutional monarchy and replace it with a communist dictatorship. Nearly eleven thousand people have died in the fighting, some four thousand since August 2003.

Lines of communication, including Internet and telephone service, out of Nepal's capital, Kathmandu, were cut off after the state of emergency was imposed. News reports indicate that student and political leaders have been arrested or placed under house arrest: According to the Associated Press, troops surrounded the homes of members of the ousted government, including former prime minister Sher Bahadur Deuba. King Gyanendra has appointed a new ten-member cabinet, which he will chair. He said the new government would work to restore democracy within three years.

U.S. State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said that King Gyanendra's actions undercut both Nepal's democratic institutions and the battle against the Maoist insurgency:

"As we have repeatedly said, we support a peaceful, prosperous, and democratic Nepal. The protection of civil and human rights and strengthening of multiparty democracy are key components of Nepal's progressing down this path. So we are urging an immediate move towards the restoration of multiparty democratic institutions under a constitutional monarchy. We are continuing to urge the Maoists to abandon their struggle and to join the political mainstream through dialogue."

President George W. Bush said in his inaugural address that the United States "will encourage reform in other governments by making clear that success in our relations will require the decent treatment of their own people."