Hundreds of thousands of Nepalis across the kingdom have turned up for the travelling peace concert, Sundar Shanta Nepal, and songs of peace and national unity have got the most enthusiastic applause.
At the performance in Ghorahi, Dang on Wednesday, the audience spontaneously rose up to dance to the tune of Amrit Gurung's 'Rato ra chandra surya' (pictured). The concert has travelled to Birtamod, Hetauda, Dang and Dhangadi and will move on to Palpa, Charikot and Bhaktapur Darbar Square for the grande finale on 30 October. The message from audiences everywhere has been: "Extend the ceasefire."
Meanwhile, back in Kathmandu the political impasse continues with the seven party alliance announcing a boycott of municipal elections and parliamentary polls slated before April 2007. The promulgation of a controversial media ordinance outlining, among other things, stiff fines for news critical of the king and royal family and a ban on news on FM has led many to doubt the sincerity of the poll call.
The new clampdown has been greeted with outrage and defiance within Nepal and lawyers on Tuesday filed a public interest litigation at the Supreme Court against the ordinance. In an unprecedented move, UNESCO Director-General Ko?chiro Matsuura deplored the ordinance, saying: "At a time when the planning of democratic elections has been announced in Nepal, legislation that justifies censorship and curtails the ability of media professionals to do their job can only appear to be incompatible with a free and open electoral process."