26 April 2006
Nepal parties want constituent assembly
KATHMANDU: Following King Gyanendra's humiliating late-night climbdown on Monday, in which he agreed to reinstate Parliament, hundreds of thousands of people from all walks of life descended on the Nepalese capital on Tuesday to stake their claim to the political future of the country.
Jubilant, boisterous but good humoured and well-behaved, the enormous crowds seemed as intent on celebrating their victory over the King as on warning the political leaders set to assume power not to deviate from the aims of the movement.
The slogans raised and banners put up outside the residence of Nepali Congress leader Girija Prasad Koirala said it all. "Netahru, savdhaan [leaders, beware]," the crowds chanted. "We want a constituent assembly."The parties woke up on Tuesday to find the ball firmly in their possession. After firming up their tactics, the Seven Party Alliance (SPA), spearheading the anti-monarchy protests, issued a statement welcoming the King's latest proclamation and declaring that Mr. Koirala would be their candidate for Prime Minister.
The "main objectives" to be achieved through the restoration, they said, were "constituting an all-party government, election to a constituent assembly, and on the whole, establishing an inclusive and participatory complete loktantra [democracy]... and the establishment of lasting peace."
Though the statement does not explicitly say so, party leaders insisted that announcing their intention to hold elections to a constituent assembly would be a top priority for Parliament when it met.
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