&to=http:// english.pravda.ru/diplomatic/2001/06/05/6888.html ' target=_blank>Nepal's King Gyanendra, who put himself in charge of the nation on Tuesday amid an intensifying war with Maoist rebels, has run the country behind the scenes since a 2001 palace &to=http:// english.pravda.ru/mailbox/22/101/399/14318_bush.html ' target=_blank>massacre vaulted him to the throne.
Gyanendra became the constitutional monarch in June 2001 after his brother, King Birendra, and other royals were murdered at the palace by a drink-fuelled crown prince who later shot himself.
On Tuesday, Gyanendra pledged to restore democracy in the impoverished Himalayan kingdom, where a nine-year Maoist battle to topple the monarchy and install a communist republic has become increasingly savage, reports Times of India.
Nepal's neighbour, India, said the king's action was a setback to Nepalese democracy and a cause for grave concern. The move would "benefit the forces that not only wish to undermine democracy but the institution of monarchy as well," a foreign ministry spokesman said.
The UK government criticised the development and appealed for "calm and restraint".