Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Nepal's monarchy abolished, republic declared: official

KATHMANDU (AFP) — A constitutional assembly in Nepal on Wednesday voted overwhelmingly in favour of abolishing the Himalayan nation's 240-year-old monarchy and declaring a republic, an official announced.

"The proposal for the implementation of a republic has been passed by a majority," a senior member of the 601-member body, Kul Bahadur Gurung, told the gathering.

He said 560 members of the Constituent Assembly voted in favour, with four opposed.

Nepal's fiercely-republican Maoists, who fought for 10 years to oust the unpopular King Gyanendra's Hindu dynasty and create a secular republic, won the largest single bloc of seats in the assembly in April elections.

The meeting is the culmination of a 2006 peace deal between the country's mainstream political parties and the rebels that brought to an end a civil war, which killed at least 13,000 people.

Officials said the parties will give King Gyanendra, who ascended to the throne after most of the royal family were massacred by a drunken prince in 2001, 15 days to vacate his Kathmandu palace.

The approved proposal states that Nepal will become "an independent, indivisible, sovereign, secular and an inclusive democratic republic nation."

"Nepal has turned into a democratic republic, all the existing laws and administrative functions that contradicts this idea will be invalidated from today," the text of the declaration reads.

"All the privileges enjoyed by the king and royal family will automatically come to an end," it says, also declaring May 29 as "Republic Day."

The declaration also states that Gyanendra's main palace will be transformed into a museum.

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