Nepal Parties Call for Anti-monarchy Demo at King's Doorstep

The seven-hour curfew order in Kathmandu came as opposition leaders ramped up pressure on beleaguered King Gyanendra by announcing a major demonstration for Tuesday in the capital after 18 days of protests and strikes demanding an end to the monarch's absolute rule.

Nepal's royal government has imposed a fresh daytime seven-hour curfew and shoot-on-sight orders (AFP Photo)

Meanwhile the US embassy told the families of diplomats and some staff to leave the country because of security concerns.

The embassy in a statement warned other American citizens "should also depart Nepal as soon as possible".

Leaders from a seven-party alliance will address a rally at seven points on the 27-kilometre (17-mile) ring road around the capital, according to reports, as senior opposition leaders vowed to take the protest to the royal palace.

"The democratic republic has reached up to the king's ring road and now it moves to the royal palace," said senior protest leader Bamdev Gautam at a rally on the northern outskirts of the city late Sunday.

"We will organise a big protest the day after tomorrow and I request all the people to come on to the streets to make it a success," said the high-ranking member of the Communist Party of Nepal (Unified Marxist-Leninist), one of the alliance parties.

The parties said they planned 1,000 marches, mass meetings and effigy burnings Monday as a curtain raiser to the main protest throughout the Kathmandu Valley, the area encompassing the capital and home to 1.7 million people, according to reports.

King Gyanendra, in a bid to thwart new protests, on Monday set a new curfew in central Kathmandu from 11:00 am (0515 GMT) until 6:00 pm, state television said, warning anyone who violated the order could be shot on sight.

Official cars with loudspeakers toured the streets warning people to stay inside their homes.

The city was suffering shortages of fuel, food and other essential goods as piles of festering rubbish littered the streets.

Large sections of the ring road were covered with burnt tyres and roadblocks from nearly three weeks of daily protests as the king has struggled to quell the escalating calls for his removal.

King Gyanendra seized power in February 2005 because he said the government was corrupt and had failed to tackle the bloody Maoist insurgency, which has left more than 12,500 dead over the last decade.

The seven-party alliance called on security forces to switch sides after at least 27 more protesters were injured Sunday during clashes on the outskirts of the capital.

Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, meanwhile, called Sunday for a rapid restoration of the multi-party system in Nepal to end the unrest gripping the kingdom, which he said has deeply troubled India.

Singh told reporters on a trip to Germany King Gyanendra's decision to outlaw democratic political parties had led to the crisis, and added that the Indian government had urged the monarch in "several conversations" to back down.

At least 14 people have died and hundreds have been injured in the clashes between pro-democracy activists and the security forces during an upsurge of civil unrest that began on April 6.

Source: AFP

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