WORLD / Asia-Pacific

Nepal parliament set to curtail king's powers
Updated: 2006-05-18 11:47

Nepal's parliament was set to pass a special resolution on Thursday that would curtail the king's powers and wrest control of the army from the monarch.

"The special proclamation will be presented in the parliament on Thursday and passed," Home Minister Krishna Prasad Sitaula said.

The proclamation is expected to strip the king of his formal title of supreme commander-in-chief and call the administration Nepal government instead of His Majesty's Government.

Cutting the king's powers was a key demand of last month's pro-democracy protests, which led to King Gyanendra reinstating parliament and handing power back to a multi-party government.

Parliament is due to meet at 3 p.m. (0915 hours GMT).

Sitaula did not give details of the proposals but party officials said the resolution was expected to empower the parliament to make laws relating to the king and put the 90,000-member army under parliament's control.

The principal advisory body of the king, the Raj Parishad or privy council, is also expected to be scrapped.

"It is a parliament without opposition and the adoption of the resolution will not be a problem," said Yubaraj Ghimire, editor of the news magazine, Samay.

What could be problematic is that, according to the political parties, any provision in the existing constitution or laws that contradict the resolution will be invalid, he said.

"This cannot happen because such a resolution cannot have the force of a law," Ghimire said. "At most, it can only be seen as a collective intent of the house."

The government on Thursday banned protests in the heart of the capital and around key government buildings, two days after hundreds of people protested in front of the central secretariat building against the delay in clipping the king's power.

King Gyanendra triggered the crisis when he sacked the government and assumed full powers on February 1 of last year, saying the government had failed to quell an revolt that has killed more than 13,000 people.

The new government has reciprocated a rebel ceasefire which the king had earlier rejected and the Maoists have now the rebel agreed to talks.

The parties and the rebel have also agreed to hold elections to an assembly to draft a new constitution and decide the future of the monarchy, a key demand of the Maoists.

On Wednesday, the United States said it remained sceptical about the commitment of the rebels to the ceasefire and asked them to renounce violence and lay down their weapons.