Thursday, July 9, 2009

Nepal govt's birthday gift to Gyanendra

Nepal govt's birthday gift to Gyanendra

9 Jul 2009, 1746 hrs IST, TNN

KATHMANDU: Nepal’s new government Thursday virtually handed over a gift to ousted king Gyanendra, who turned 62 this week, by shelving the Maoist
plan to begin a fresh investigation into the palace massacre that nine years ago enabled him to ascend the throne.

When he was prime minister, Maoist chief Pushpa Kamal Dahal Prachanda had said a high-level probe would be initiated into the June 2001 shootout in the Narayanhuty royal palace in which King Birendra and nine more royals perished. Though Birendra’s son Dipendra was held responsible by an inquiry commission, it was rejected by the nation that still considers the killing to be a complex conspiracy.

In its policies and programme for the financial year 2009-10, Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal’s government instead settled for a lesser investigation into the properties of the formal royals. “The property belonging to the former royal family, both within the country and abroad, will be investigated and utilized for national benefit,” the government said.

It is a feeble threat since the new government that came to power following the fall of the army-backed regime of King Gyanendra in 2006 had pledged to nationalize the royal family’s assets but failed to make a dent.

Except for the palaces and extensive lands belonging to slain king Birendra, a succession of governments failed to make any headway in its effort to take over royal property. Repeated letters to Gyanendra to disclose his income went unanswered. Neither could officials trace the former royals’ assets in foreign banks, including in India.

The 27-page document was tabled in parliament Thursday after a hiatus of two months by the president, Dr Ram Baran Yadav. The Maoists, who had obstructed the house since May to show their anger over Yadav’s support for the army chief they had sacked, allowed him to present the document but only two of their lawmakers attended the session to show their disapproval.

After the document is discussed by legislators, finance minister Surendra Pandey will table his budget Monday.

India and China were given special mention in the document, which reiterated that the government’s foreign policy would be conducted “on the principles of the UN Charter, Panchasheela, and Non-alignment keeping national interest on the top”.

“Friendly and cordial relations with neighbouring countries, particularly with India and China will be further strengthened on the basis of mutual respect, equality, co-operation and cordiality” and “Nepalese territory will not be allowed to be used against any neighbouring and friendly country,” the document added.

Concerted efforts will be made to return the Bhutanese citizens living in Nepal as refugees to their country with dignity and respect. The relations with other friendly countries will also be strengthened and expanded. Nepal’s participation in the UN peacekeeping will be given continuity.


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