Tuesday, February 15, 2005

NEPAL FLASH: US, EU, India recall envoys to protest King's power grab

Nepal came under international pressure after the United States, European Union and India recalled their ambassadors from the Himalayan outpost to protest King Gyanendra's seizure of absolute power(AFP/File/Emmanuel Dunand)


+ "The recall of our ambassador, along with the ambassadors of the United Kingdom, India and France, who are also leaving Kathmandu today, I think is an indication of the deep concern in the international community about the recent developments in Nepal," State Department spokesman Richard Boucher told reporters. "These are widely shared among nations of the international community.+

US, EU, India recall envoys from Nepal to protest King's power grab


WASHINGTON (AFP) - Nepal came under international pressure after the United States, European Union (news - web sites) and India recalled their ambassadors from the Himalayan outpost to protest King Gyanendra's seizure of absolute power.

The US State Department indicated of possible international action if the king refused to heed calls to restore fundamental rights.

"The recall of our ambassador, along with the ambassadors of the United Kingdom, India and France, who are also leaving Kathmandu today, I think is an indication of the deep concern in the international community about the recent developments in Nepal," State Department spokesman Richard Boucher told reporters.

"These are widely shared among nations of the international community.

In Paris, French foreign ministry spokesman Herve Ladsous said: "In light of recent events in Nepal, we have decided -- along with our European partners -- to recall EU ambassadors living in Kathmandu for consultations."

On February 1, Nepal's King Gyanendra sacked the government, appointed a pro-royalist cabinet headed by himself and declared a state of emergency in the Himalayan kingdom.

Boucher said the United States had "made clear the point" that the king needed to restore and protect civil and human rights.

Gyanendra should also release those detained under the state of emergency and move quickly toward restoration of civil liberties and multi-party, democratic institutions, he added.

"We will consult with our ambassador and others will consult with their ambassadors about how best to achieve those goals, how we can support those goals," Boucher said.

"And we'll be sending our ambassador back after a (week) in order to convey that message even more clearly," he said.

Whatever steps taken by the international community would be aimed at "supporting the Nepalese people's quest for democracy, peace, security and development," he added.

India's envoy to Nepal, Shiv Shankar Mukherjee, who returned to New Delhi on Monday, had called on the foreign minister Natwar Singh, and briefed him on the latest developments in the restive Himalayan kingdom and his talks with King Gyandendra last week.

Analysts say that among the first actions to be taken if the Nepalese king refused to budge would be freezing military aid to the impoverished nation fighting an uphill battle to supress a Maoist insurgency, which has claimed more than 11,000 lives so far.

The United States, Britain and India, Nepal's giant neighbor India have been key backers of Nepal in its drive to crush communist insurgents wanting to set up a republic.

The United States had allocated 45 million dollars in aid for Nepal in the year to September 2004, 10 percent of which was for security, a US official said. For fiscal 2005, 44 million dollars has been set aside with only one third for security related activities.

Britain reportedly is also reviewing defense assistance of 6.5 million pounds (about 12 million dollars) while New Delhi has supplied the ill-equipped Nepalese army with helicopters, guns and other equipment.

Gyanendra said he sacked the government because it failed to quell what is believed to be the worlds fastest flourishing and most successful Maoist movement in the post-Cold War period.

The rebels said Monday they would fight to the finish to oust the king and his "autocratic regime."