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Identifier
Created
Classification
Origin
02KATHMANDU1938
2002-10-07 12:09:00
CONFIDENTIAL
Embassy Kathmandu
Cable title:  

NEPAL: REACTIONS TO KING'S ASSUMPTION OF

Tags:   PGOV  NP  GON 
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						C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 KATHMANDU 001938 

SIPDIS

STATE FOR SA/INS
LONDON FOR POL - RIEDEL

E.O. 12958: DECL: 10/06/2012
TAGS: PGOV NP GON
SUBJECT: NEPAL: REACTIONS TO KING'S ASSUMPTION OF
EXECUTIVE POWERS

REF: (A) KATHMANDU 1932

Classified By: DCM ROBERT K. BOGGS. REASON: 1.5 (B,D).

-------
SUMMARY
--------

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 KATHMANDU 001938

SIPDIS

STATE FOR SA/INS
LONDON FOR POL - RIEDEL

E.O. 12958: DECL: 10/06/2012
TAGS: PGOV NP GON
SUBJECT: NEPAL: REACTIONS TO KING'S ASSUMPTION OF
EXECUTIVE POWERS

REF: (A) KATHMANDU 1932

Classified By: DCM ROBERT K. BOGGS. REASON: 1.5 (B,D).

--------------
SUMMARY
--------------


1. (C) After initially denouncing King Gyanendra's October
4 assumption of executive power (Ref A) as unconstitutional,
leaders of most political parties are still coming to grips
with--and trying to assess how best to turn to their
advantage--the monarch's action. As of COB October 7, most
party leaders had not yet officially decided whether or how
to accept Gyanendra's invitation to propose members of a
caretaker government. A well-connected source with ties
close to the Palace told the Ambassador October 7 that the
King is increasingly confident, despite some initial
demurring, that he will get the multi-partisan support and
participation in the new Cabinet that he seeks. Although
extra police and security have been apparent on Kathmandu
streets since October 5, public reation remains fairly
measured--even positive. Local press and police sources
report that some former members of Prime Minister Sher
Bahadur Deuba's Cabinet are under unofficial "house arrest."
The Maoists, whom the King did not specifically invite to
participate in the Cabinet, issued a press statement October
5 condemning the monarch's move. Embassy's press statement,
to be released on an if-asked basis, follows in Para 8 below.
End summary.

--------------
CONSULTATION, BUT SO FAR NO CONSENSUS
--------------


2. (C) Following his late-night dismissal of the government
of Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba and his assumption of
executive powers October 4 (Ref A), King Gyanendra continues
to meet with leaders of mainstream political parties to
encourage their participation in a caretaker government.
Although many of the parties have toned down the heated
rhetoric of their initial reactions (both factions of the
Nepali Congress had earlier termed the move "undemocratic"
and "unconstitutional"), most mainstream parties were as of
COB October 7 still assessing the King's action--and his
invitation to nominate members to an interim Cabinet. Sushil
Koirala, General Secretary of the Nepali Congress (Koirala

wing), told us that his party had many questions about the
"modalities" of the proposed new government, i.e., whether
the Cabinet could be reconstituted from the previous
Parliament; whether the Cabinet or the King will exercise
executive powers; and the extent of powers of the caretaker
Prime Minister. Both the National Democratic Party, which
had initially welcomed the King's action, and the Communist
Party of Nepal - United Marxist Leninist (UML) have not yet
determined whether to accept the King's offer and nominate
members to join the interim government. Only former Prime
Minister Deuba told the Ambassador on October 7 that he will
not forward to the King nominations for the proposed interim
government (septel).


3. (C) Former Finance Minister Ram Sharan Mahat, now allied
with the Nepali Congress (Koirala), told the Ambassador
October 7 that his party, while still regarding the King's
action as unconstitutional, realizes it must deal with the
new reality the move presents. The Nepali Congress is very
concerned that "no further encroachment" upon the
Constitution take place. The new Cabinet should include
members of political parties based on their representation in
the previous Parliament, Mahat said. Indeed, most of the
Cabinet should be political figures, rather than technocrats,
Mahat noted, citing Article 128 of the Constitution. (Note:
Article 128.2 stipulates that in the event of the dissolution
of the Cabinet, "His Majesty shall constitute a new Council
of Ministers consisting of representatives from the main
political parties." End note.)


4. (C) The parties' apparent hesitation does not seem to be
a matter of concern to the King. Prabhakar Rana, a prominent
businessman with close ties to the Palace, told the
Ambassador October 7 that King Gyanendra is increasingly
confident that he will get the multi-partisan support and
participation he is seeking within the five-day limit he set
in his October 4 speech (Ref A). The King is not bargaining
with the parties, Rana asserted, although he indicated the
monarch may be reconsidering his precondition that new
Cabinet members not stand in the next general election. Rana
also dismissed speculation that the King plans to fill the
new interim government with aged hold-overs from the former
Panchayat regime.

--------------
PUBLIC REACTION
--------------


5. (SBU) Although police and security forces have beefed up
their presence along Kathmandu streets since October 5,
public reaction to the King's announcement has been
comparatively calm--even positive. The Palace declared
October 7 a government holiday; most people took the occasion
to shop in preparation for the week-long Dasain holiday,
which begins October 14. The UML student union staged a
peaceful protest October 6; other public demonstrations have
been pro-Palace. Members of the business community have told
us they welcomed the King's move--some even going so far as
to take out public advertisements applauding his action in
local newspapers.


6. (C) According to police sources, at least two of former
PM Deuba's Cabinet Ministers have been placed under
unofficial house arrest. Police are "guarding" the private
homes of former Communications Minister Jaya Prakash Gupta
and former Physical Works Minister Chiranjibi Wagle, both of
whom have been summoned to appear before the Commission for
the Investigation into the Abuse of Authority (CIAA), the
autonomous anti-corruption body. The police have told us
that the order was passed down from sources in the Palace,
rather than the Home Ministry. There have been unconfirmed
press reports that the homes of three other former
ministers--Khum Bahadur Khadga (Home), Bal Bahadur K.C.
(Civil Aviation), and Bijay Kumar Gachhadar (Water Resources)
are under police surveillance as well. Reflective of the
many problems that he had with his erstwhile Cabinet
colleagues, former Prime Minister Deuba told the Ambassador
that he had "no problem if they were thrown in jail."

-------------- --------------
MAOISTS: PREDICTABLE CONDEMNATION, BUT SO FAR NO ACTION
-------------- --------------


7. (U) On October 5 Maoist leader Prachanda issued a press
statement condemning Gyanendra's action as a "baton" to
"attack the fundamental rights of the people," part of an
ongoing Palace conspiracy to undermine democracy. Noting
that the King's announcement made no mention of a solution to
the "present civil war in the country," the Maoist statement
urges all Nepalis to "launch a strong protest to sweep out
the feudal, tyrannical despots forever." Despite the fiery
rhetoric, however, there have been no reports of increased
Maoist activity or fresh schedules for general strikes, or
"bandhs," issued since the King's October 4 speech.

--------------
EMBASSY STATEMENT
--------------


8. (U) The Foreign Ministries in New Delhi and Beijing have
already issued public statements regarding the King's action:
China's predictably non-committal and India's well-balanced
and generally supportive. We understand the EU may be
weighing a joint statement. The Embassy prepared the
following statement to be used on an if-asked basis with the
Nepali and foreign press.

--We consider it regrettable that the security situation
prevented elections from being held as scheduled on November

13.

--As friends of Nepal, we view preservation of the
constitutional monarchy and a multi-party democracy that
respects all fundamental political and civil rights as
crucial elements of any satisfactory resolution to this
national crisis.
--We note His Majesty's affirmation of his commitment to the
Constitution and democracy.

--We consider it imperative that free, fair and credible
national and local elections be held as soon as feasible.

--In this time of national crisis, we look to all Nepalis to
accept the challenge before their country and contribute
their vision and leadership to resolve the problems
confronting their nation.

End statement.

--------------
COMMENT
--------------


9. (C) After initially condemning the King's move as
unconstitutional, the largest political parties are clearly
re-thinking their positions. With the possible exception of
former PM Deuba's Nepali Congress (Democratic), most parties
seem to be reassessing their options and attempting to
extract the most advantage possible from the new situation.
The composition of the new Cabinet is very much a work in
progress for both the King and the parties. Despite the
tough talk on both sides, we expect a signficant amount of
accommodation will take place on the part of both the Palace
and the parties in order to achieve a workable solution.




MALINOWSKI