All eyes on palace for Nepalese king’s eviction

NEPAL’S government said yesterday it has started an audit of palace property and sent an official letter telling King Gyanendra to leave after an historic assembly abolished the monarchy.

The ousted Hindu “god-king”, given a two-week eviction order, has kept a studied silence behind the high walls of his pink-hued Narayanhiti palace, although the royal flag has come down from over the complex.

“An official letter has been dispatched from the government asking Gyanendra Shah to vacate the palace,” said Information Minister Krishna Bahadur Mahara.

“A high-level committee has been formed to prepare the details of the property inside the palace. All the property will be transferred to national property,” he added.

A constitutional assembly, dominated by former rebel Maoists, voted last Wednesday to abolish Gyanendra’s 240-year-old Shah dynasty — capping a peace process that ended a decade-long civil war.

Some 13,000 people were killed in the insurgency launched by the Maoists in 1996 to install a communist republic.

An estimated 1,500 soldiers guard the king, but Nepal’s army said they will comply with the decision, which also involves turning the royal palace in Kathmandu into a museum.

Nepal has been brimming for weeks with rumours over the king’s plans, with each departure from the palace in recent days watched with bated breath.

Kishore Shrestha, a newspaper editor whose publication regularly runs scoops on palace affairs, said the ousted king’s son Paras moved his belongings out overnight.

Gyanendra, considered by loyalists to be a reincarnation of a Hindu god, ascended to the throne in 2001 after most of the royal family were slain by a drugged, drunk, lovelorn and suicidal prince.

But the king failed to win the support of the public, many of whom believed conspiracy theories linking him with the killings.

His unpopularity deepened when he sacked the government and embarked on a period of autocratic rule in early 2005. Mass protests led to a landmark peace agreement in 2006 that saw the king increasingly sidelined.


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