Who is the first king of Nepal
· On June 1, the Nepalese King Birendra, Queen Aishwarya and other members of the royal family were killed and injured in the palace in Kathmandu. Two weeks after the massacre in the royal family, the official commission of inquiry declared Crown Prince Dipendra responsible for the bloodbath. The official heir to the throne, Dipendra, who was appointed king on June 2nd, died on June 3rd. Thereupon the younger brother of the slain king, Gyanendra, succeeded Dipendra.
· The population is reluctant to accept the new king, mainly because of his son, Paras Shah, who does not seem suitable in character as heir to the throne. Many Nepalese also suspect that Gyanendra may be involved. Although the new king is committed to the constitutional monarchy, he has so far been considered an advocate of absolute kingship. In the 90s he wanted to suppress the democracy movement by force.
· Several parties have only been admitted in Nepal since 1990. However, from 1995 to 1999 only weak minority governments were in power. The “Nepali Congress” (NC) has had a majority government since 1999. Since April 2000 G.P. Koirala Prime Minister for the fourth time. The largest opposition party is the “Communist Party of Nepal - Unified Marxist-Leninists” (CPN-UML).
· It is feared that the growing underground Maoist movement could emerge strengthened from the events. Prime Minister Koirala will find it difficult to restore political stability to the country. The constitutional monarchy seems increasingly in danger.
What really happened on Friday June 1st in the Royal Palace of Kathmandu?
Is it conceivable that the heir to the throne Dipendra (29) single-handedly his parents King Birendra (56) and Queen Aishwarya (52), the youngest brother of King Dihendra, his sisters Shruti and Jayanti, his brother Nirajan, the two sisters of King Birendra shot in cold blood and killed and injured other members of the royal family? The first reports from the agencies the evening after the crime at 9 p.m. already offered the explanation: The Crown Prince wanted to marry Devyani Rana (22), the daughter of a former minister and an Indian noblewoman. The queen was against it. Out of ignorance and desperation, he shot almost his entire family at dinner together. After the bloodbath, the crown prince is said to have gone to the family temple in the palace and shot himself in the head there.
It was not until June 6 that one could read an eyewitness account in the international press. According to Rajiv Shahi, a military doctor who is married to a daughter of the youngest brother of the slain King Birendra and who was present at the family gathering in the palace, Crown Prince Dipendra actually committed the act while drunk. The Washington Post details how he dealt with an Uzi submachine gun and an M-16. Dressed in army uniform, the Crown Prince first killed his father and then shot around with his weapons for 15 minutes. Encouraging his mother and younger brother to finally stop the rampage allegedly did no good, they too were victims. Two weeks after the massacre, the official investigative commission blamed Dipendra for the bloodbath. However, the commission left it open as to whether he subsequently committed suicide.
First reactions to the deed
A Council of State made up of the Prime Minister, the leader of the opposition and representatives of constitutional organs had already named Crown Prince Dipendra as the new monarch on June 2nd. Not only in Kathmandu was the question of how a murderer could succeed King Birendra. Since there are no regulations for such a case and one didn’t want to think about and believe that Dipendra had committed the act anyway, the intended succession to the throne was retained. The late king's younger brother, Prince Gyanendra, was made regent because the new king was in a coma and unable to conduct official business. Gyanendra himself was not in the palace on the day of the massacre. Following the death of King Dipendra, the Council of State appointed the regent Gyanendra as the new king on June 4th. He was enthroned in the Hanumandokha Palace in Kathmandu that same day. During the subsequent trip in the six-horse carriage to the Royal Palace, only tension and uncertainty could be felt. There were sad and incredulous faces. Safety precautions had been taken so that there were no demonstrations.
According to Hindu custom, the victims of the massacre and King Dipendra were cremated at the Paschupatinath Temple less than 24 hours after their death. While tens of thousands were still on the streets with King Birendra and the Queen and accompanied the funeral procession, the cremation of Dipendra on June 4th due to a curfew only took place in the presence of a handful of priests and members of the army. The new king was not present. It is not known whether a thorough autopsy of the victims took place. In the meantime the information circulated, which was not confirmed by the palace, that Dipendra had gunshot wounds in the back, so a suicide seems unlikely.
On June 3, the spokesman for the Royal Palace, Chiran Thapa, came up with the official version of the accident: an automatic weapon suddenly went off, it was an accident. The palace could not admit that a murderer was made king and wanted to explain Dipendra's innocence. Even the population did not want to believe that such an act was committed by a member of the royal family.
A curfew was ordered on June 4th. From 3:30 p.m. the Nepalis were no longer allowed to be on the streets of the capital. The danger was too great that tens of thousands of demonstrators could provide facts and perhaps even storm the palace. The demonstrations on June 4 left at least three dead and numerous injured. 450 demonstrators were arrested by the police.
New king with initially little acceptance
The new king Gyanendra has little reputation in Nepal. Various suspicions were raised and rumors circulated that drew attention to his personal circle. A big problem for him could be his son Paras Shah. On August 6, 2000, the well-known musician Praveen Gurung died in Kathmandu as a result of an apparently provoked collision between his motorcycle and the prince's SUV. At the time, government officials and the opposition called for criminal measures to be taken against Paras Shah. By August 22, a student association affiliated with the Communist Party of Nepal-United Marxists and Leninists (CPN-UML) collected more than 500,000 signatures demanding that the then king hold the prince accountable for the accident. A week later, the king ordered a thorough investigation into the case. Another reason why the case is so explosive is that it was not the first time that Paras Shah had killed a man. Four years ago he had already run over a passerby in Chitwan while drunk and three years ago he killed a taxi driver, also under the influence of alcohol. In the past, in view of his origins, the prince was never prosecuted. For the Nepalese people, it is hard to imagine that Paras Shah could be appointed heir to the throne in view of this past.
The new king Gyanendra was previously considered an advocate of absolute monarchy. In the 90s he wanted to suppress the democracy movement by force. There are also rumors that he has long wanted to come to power with the help of the military. The suspicion, which initially circulated in Kathmandu, that he and his family were behind the massacre in the palace, should be dispelled in view of the statements made by the survivor. In the meantime, Gyanendra has committed himself to the constitutional monarchy.
Political stability in the future?
Several parties have only been allowed in Nepal since 1990. However, from 1995 to 1999 only weak minority governments were in power. The Nepali Congress (NC), which is a member of the Socialist International, has had a majority government since 1999.
On May 27, 1999, after the general election, the NC leader Krishna Parsad Bhattarai was appointed by the king as the new prime minister. The election result gave the NC a parliamentary majority with 111 seats. The extreme left, Communist Party of Nepal Unified Marxist-Leninist (CPN-UML), received 70 seats, the right-wing party, Rastriya Prajatantra Party (RPP), 11, the Maoist National United People's Front (NUPF) 5, the Nepal Regional Party Sadbhavana Party (NSP) 5, the United People's Front (UPF) and the Maoist Nepal Peasant's and Workers' Party (NePWP) also have a seat. Nepal today has several communist parties, as there have been repeated secession within the communist parties over the years Parties came. The government is formed by the Nepali Congress and the CPN-UML is the largest opposition party. Bhattarai was founded in April 2000 by G.P. Koirala replaced, who became Prime Minister for the 4th time.
Since there is a majority vote in Nepal, the NC was able to win the majority of the seats in parliament, although its share of the vote was below 40% nationwide. It is certain that the Communist Party would easily have a majority in parliament today if it had not repeatedly split in the past. The electoral districts in the Kathmandu valley are firmly in the hands of the communists. In Bakhtapur, 14 km away from Kathmandu and stronghold of the NePWP, led by "Comrade Rohit", there have already been demonstrations against the monarchy. Rohit is trusted to lead an alliance of democratic forces, if this comes about. He is highly regarded, has never been accused of corruption and has excellent contacts with the Maoists.
Madhav Kumar Nepal, the opposition leader of the CPN-UML, is also considered a non-corrupt pragmatist. However, he has great difficulty in keeping different currents together within his own party. One wing of the CPN-UML is now tending towards an extra-parliamentary route. Many believe, including Prakas Chandra Lohani of the RPP, a former foreign minister and monarchist, that there is a great danger that parts of the UML, NUPF and the NePWP will soon openly confess to Maoist terrorists. In Lohani's opinion, this would be fatal for the country, as there would then be no political solution to the Maoist problem in the foreseeable future and the constitutional monarchy would also be in great danger.
Increased acceptance of the Maoists?
The CPN-UML has requested a thorough investigation of what is going on in the palace. Meanwhile, former Communist Party leader Prachanda, who now lives underground, issued a statement calling the incident a conspiracy against the king, who was too liberal for some and refused to let the army march against the Maoists . He also stressed that the king was increasingly critical of the Koirala government, the “Indian monopoly capitalists” and the “foreign and domestic reactionary hardliners”.
In addition to the Maoist representatives in parliament, there are numerous underground Maoist groups operating in the various provinces. Their approach is clearly extra-parliamentary: In February 1996 they declared a “people's war” on the Nepalese state with the aim of establishing a republic. Their uprising finds support above all in the poorest areas of Nepal and in left-wing intellectual circles. The reasons for the sympathy within the population are likely to be found in dissatisfaction with the economic situation and widespread corruption. Large areas of society are practically excluded from political decisions that affect them. To date, the bitter struggle between the Maoist terrorists and members of the royal police and army has claimed almost 1,700 victims, mainly among the civilian population. 35 of the 75 districts are said to be more or less under the control of the Maoist insurgents, with functioning Maoist (parallel) administrations being set up in the Rukum and Rolpa districts. It is even officially acknowledged that the Maoists have performed well in the villages. Excessive alcohol consumption was banned, moneylenders who charge usurious interest were chased away, compulsory schooling was introduced and slavery abolished. They are social programs that the government could also have initiated. Negotiations between the government and the Maoist groups have not yet taken place.
Crisis in parliament
Girija Prasad Koirala, the Prime Minister, will want to prove himself as a crisis manager after the current events in the royal family. He's been caught in an ongoing government crisis since the beginning of the year. Parliament had not met in the past few months because the opposition boycotted all meetings. The opposition, above all the CPN-UML, is calling for the head of government to resign. The prime minister and party leader of the NC is not only suspected of corruption by the opposition. Recent examples, such as the affair surrounding the leasing of a Lauda Air plane, in which his family, it is said, has been shown to have received a substantial sum “as a kick-back”, are making the rounds. None of the top politicians of the opposition parties, without exception, and even parts of his own party, the Nepali Congress, do not trust Koirala to lead Nepal out of the crisis. Comrade Rohit accuses him of not adhering to the democratic rules of the game and of making promises to India for which he could never get a parliamentary majority. Koirala is now 76 years old and opposition politicians believe that he becomes increasingly stubborn with age. Koirala enjoyed the highest reputation in Nepal for many years. He spent several years in prison in the 1960s for campaigning for freedom and democracy. The fact that demonstrators have now repeatedly loudly demanded his resignation is not surprising, since he failed as prime minister and as the person in charge of palace affairs and did not expressly urge a quick and thorough investigation of the events. Instead, he helped ensure that Dipendra was appointed king in the State Council.
The government then declared that it was not responsible for an investigation into what was going on in the palace on June 1 and is leaving the palace to investigate. It was King Gyanendra himself who appointed the commission of inquiry. In its June 15 report, the latter identified Dipendra as responsible for the attack.
At this point in time, the country has the option of setting up an all-party government by the next elections in two and a half years, in order to finally ensure more political stability together, as the RPP is calling for. The CPN-UML would have to agree to it, if Koirala were ready. At the same time, a dialogue with the Maoists must be sought that is supported by all parties. Perhaps concessions should also be made to the Maoists in order to integrate them into normal political life. But it seems unlikely that Koirala will go this way.
In view of the low acceptance of the new king and his son and the possibility that the results of the investigation commission are not convincing, the unrest in the population could spread. This could lead to a further polarization of Nepalese politics and society. The bloody act in the palace would ultimately benefit the Maoists most of all.
It is already certain that the economically weak country will fall behind in terms of economic development due to current events. Tourism is already suffering from them. International congresses are canceled and the image of the Shangri-La in the Himalayas has suffered great damage. So far, the Maoists have tolerated tourism as hundreds of thousands earn their living from it. The fear that this could change is in the room. Months ago, the Prime Minister demanded that the army be used against the Maoists, which the former King Birendra had refused. It remains to be seen whether his successor will behave in the same way. So far, a civil war has been avoided.
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