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Premier of Nepal suggests king step down before elections

Nepal’s premier suggested the king to give up his throne before the crucial elections decide the political future of this Himalayan nation.

Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala asked both King Gyanendra and Crown Prince Paras to abdicate in a move he said would save the kingdom's 240-year-old monarchy, the Kathmandu Post newspaper reported.

"If King Gyanendra and the crown prince abdicate before the Constituent Assembly poll, monarchy can be allowed to continue," Koirala told a group of visiting Pakistani journalists, according to the Post.

Koirala has suggested that Gyanendra's 5-year-old grandson Hridayendra be allowed to take over the throne in a purely ceremonial role, the report said.

Former Maoist rebels who waged a 10-year rebellion against the monarchy before renouncing violence and joining the political mainstream as a part of a peace process were not immediately available to comment.

Members of the prime minister's office also were not available for comment.

Gyanendra, who remains deeply unpopular in Nepal, was forced to give up his authoritarian rule in April 2006 following months of pro-democracy protests led by a political alliance that included the rebels.

Since then, he has been stripped of his powers and command over the army and is waiting for the special assembly to be elected in November that will draft a new constitution and decide on the fate of the monarchy.

Last week, Nepalese legislators gave themselves the power to abolish the monarchy if the king is seen to interfere in politics. The move, written into the constitution, would need a two-thirds majority in the 329-seat assembly.

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