|06KATHMANDU1268||2006-05-18 12:42:00||CONFIDENTIAL||Embassy Kathmandu|
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C O N F I D E N T I A L KATHMANDU 001268
1. (U) Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala presented the
much-awaited Declaration limiting the power of the King to
the House of Representatives on May 18. Despite rumors that
the language would be muted (ref A), the Declaration stated
that Nepal was now a secular state, with the Parliament
having clear control over the King, the Palace, and the
"Nepal Army." From May 16, the Kathmandu District
Administration Office banned any meeting, procession, sit-in,
or strike in some public places of Kathmandu for security
reasons. The seven-party alliance was still working on
naming an expanded Cabinet. End Summary.
Parliament Limits King's Power
2. (U) Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala on May 18
introduced to the House of Representatives the much-awaited
declaration limiting the power of the King. Koirala, noting
his ill health, turned over the full reading of the
Declaration to Subas Chandra Nemwang, the House Speaker.
Earlier in the day the Cabinet had approved the Declaration.
Citing "historic" interest, Parliament showed the live House
proceedings on local television, and invited Ambassadors to
Parliament to witness the proceedings. Members of Parliament
were seen on television clapping as the Speaker announced
each provision and the Declaration passed by unanimous
3. (C) The Declaration was just as previewed in the media.
Highlights of the Declaration included limiting the King's
discretionary powers in response to the people's movement.
This means that the King will lose all executive authority
which was vested in him. The Declaration ensured that the
Parliament will decide on royal succession, taking away the
King's prerogative (as well as dealing with the problem of
Crown Prince Paras, widely regarded as unfit to be King).
The Declaration replaced the term "His Majesty's Government,"
with "Nepal Government." The Declaration dissolved the Raj
Parishad (State Council) Standing Committee, giving all
functions to the Parliament. The Civil service will now
control the Palace, and not the Royal Palace Secretariat.
Parliament will now determine all expenses of the palace, and
the King will have to pay taxes on his assets and income. A
Cabinet decision will now arrange security of the royal
Military Under Cabinet
4. (U) The Declaration abolished the title of Supreme
Commander-in-Chief of the Royal Nepalese Army, which ended
the debate on whether the King should head the national army.
The name of the "Royal Nepalese Army" was officially changed
to "Nepal Army," which will be mobilized on orders of the
Cabinet. While the Cabinet will pick the army chief,
mobilization of the army and security forces will be done by
decision of the Cabinet council. However, the stipulated
parliamentary committee will have 30 days to approve the
5. (U) The Declaration said Nepal is a secular state, and
will no longer be a Hindu Kingdom. The House of
Representatives is now the sole body on which the sovereign
rights of the people rest. The Speaker of the House, not the
King, will now convene a Parliament Session on the
recommendation of the Prime Minister, and the Speaker can now
close the Parliament Session. A special session of the House
can now be called at the request of 25 percent of the
lawmakers. The Prime Minister can now appoint a person to
the Cabinet who is not a Member of Parliament. The
Declaration voided all laws and Constitutional provisions
that contradicted it and stated that the House of
Representatives will solve any obstacles in implementing the
Government Bans Protests in Some Areas
6. (C) The Kathmandu District Administration Office banned
any meeting, procession, sit-in, or strike in some public
places of Kathmandu "to maintain law and order" as of May 18.
The order did not apply to festivals and cultural programs.
The prohibited areas included areas around the Singha Durbar
Parliament building, site of almost daily demonstrations
since the reinstatement of Parliament. The government was
likely concerned by the May 16 demonstration (ref B) when
demonstrators burned six vehicles in central Kathmandu and
blocked traffic, disrupting schools, business, and hospitals.
Cabinet Expansion Delayed
7. (C) The seven-party alliance decided to make the
Declaration limiting the King's powers on May 18, rather than
waiting for a full Cabinet. Media and Embassy sources noted
that intra-party wrangling in the Nepali Congress-Democratic
(NC-D) and People's Front Nepal (PFN) parties was
contributing to the delay. Although the government had
originally intended to have a complete Cabinet in place
before making the historic Declaration, public pressure had
8. (C) The government's declaration boxes the King in and
should relieve public pressure and clamor. Recently, despite
Maoist extortion and other bad acts, the public's criticism
had been directed against the parties, urging them to act.
Indeed, a softer declaration might have led to renewed,
widespread demonstrations. In restricting demonstrations in
certain parts of Kathmandu, the government was presumably
seeking to reassure the many residents who fear that the
Maoists have been given free rein in the city. Now, the
public focus should shift from whether the seven-party
alliance can act to whether the Maoists sincerely intend to
enter peace negotiations.