Rebel leader predicts Nepalese king's downfall

Nepal’s king could end up being executed or exiled because of his refusal to relinquish power and restore democracy, the reclusive leader of the Himalayan kingdom’s communist rebels said today, 10 years after the insurgency began.

“The king has taken steps that do not give any room for compromise,” said the leader of the Maoist rebels, Prachanda.

“The king, I think, will either be executed by the people’s court or he might be exiled,” he said. “We don’t see a future for him and the Nepali people don’t either. The king might be finished or he might leave.”

Prachanda predicted that Nepal would be “a republic state in less than five years,” saying the king’s seizure of absolute power had put the monarch on “the road to hell”.

King Gyanendra seized power just over a year ago, saying he needed to oust an interim government to bring order to a chaotic and corrupt political scene and quell the rebellion, which has claimed nearly 13,000 lives in the past decade.

A year on, the economy has fallen apart and the emboldened rebels – who control a third of the country – have stepped up their attacks, striking deep into Nepal’s urban centres.

Prachanda, whose real name is Pushpa Kamal Dahal, said his rebels, who are fighting to set up a communist state, want an ideological victory as well as a military one.

“I believe we can, and we have to, conquer Kathmandu both militarily and politically,” he said. “That’s why we like the political solution better. And we are working toward it.’

Few in Nepal believe the Maoists – who are estimated to have up to 12,000 lightly armed fighters – can win an outright military victory.

Prachanda appeared to concede that point, saying the support of India, Britain and the United States for to Royal Army had “posed some difficulties” for the rebels. All three countries gave Nepal millions of dollars worth of small arms, training and helicopters before the king seized power.

“That is why we believe that in today’s world it’s not possible only to move forward militarily,” he said. “Today’s reality is to move forward both politically and militarily, with a balance of the two.”

Diplomats and analysts say the rebels have put themselves in a position to take at least some power by skilfully exploiting a split between Nepal’s king and the political parties he usurped.

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