Nepali Times
The week that was

February First, 10AM. King Gyanendra's 28-minute royal proclamation is broadcast to the nation.

The king read through a teleprompter in a special studio inside the Narayanhiti Royal Palace. The set included the national flag, the royal standard and a backdrop of the royal seal, there were three 'jump cuts'.

The monarch criticised political parties for misusing their parliamentary privilege, lambasted the Maoists for their criminality and terrorism, sacked Sher Bahadur Deuba (without naming him) for having been incapable (once again), and announced he was taking over the chairmanship of a new council of ministers for a period of up to three years.

Even before the broadcast had finished, telephone lines to and within Nepal and the mobile network went dead. The airport was closed and international flights diverted. The army's signals corps shut down satellite links at ISPs and radio stations.

The royal proclamation was followed by an announcement from the home ministry declaring a state of emergency and the suspension of the freedom of speech, assembly, the right to property, information and against preventive detention.

Before, during and after the address, political leaders, student leaders and activists of political parties were rounded up. Many of the seniormost were under house arrest. Deuba was kept in his official residence at Baluwatar, Girija Prasad Koirala and Madhab Kumar Nepal respectively at their homes in Maharajganj and Koteswor.

Some welcomed King Gyanendra's move, hoping this might help bring the raging Maoist war to a finish. Flag-waving motorcycle rallies went around the capital on Thursday in support of the royal move. There were also fears for democratic values, but the few students who defied a ban on rallies on Tuesday were quickly dispersed.
The situation outside Kathmandu Valley is difficult to gauge because of the communication blackout. A three-day Maoist banda fizzled out in the capital.

Except China, international response was negative. India, Britain and the United States and the United Nations conveyed concern about the impact on parliamentary democracy. On Wednesday, King Gyanendra announced a 10-member cabinet that he is to chair. They include four former office bearers from the Panchayat era. Three of the ministers were powerful administrators during the pre-1990 partyless Panchayat system.

On Thursday the government announced a ban for six months on articles, interviews, news, notices and opinions against the 'letter and spirit' of the royal proclamation and providing 'direct and indirect support' to terrorism and 'destruction'. Those who went against the stricture would be subject to action.

The newly appointed ministers gave interviews to the state-run media. Home Minister Dan Bahadur Shahi told Radio Nepal the government would soon urge the Maoists to come for talks. "The rebels have always said they wanted to hold talks with the king, now that the king is chief executive, they should have no problems coming for negotiations," he said.

On Thursday, daily papers carried advertisements from some business houses and individuals welcoming the royal move.

Notice in Gorkhapatra on 3 February from His Majesty's Government Ministry of Information and Communication

Invoking Sub Clause 1 of Clause 15 of His Majesty's Print and Publication Act, 2048, and considering the nation and national interest, His Majesty's Government has banned for six months any interview, article, news, notice, view or personal opinion that goes against the letter and spirit of the Royal Proclamation on 1 Feb 2005 and that directly or indirectly supports destruction and terrorism. In line with the arrangement in the Print and Publication Act 2048, action will be taken against anyone violating this notice.

(11 JAN 2013 - 17 JAN 2013)