Thursday, April 27, 2006

Standing Behind the Despot on the Wrong Side of History

Standing Behind the Despot on the Wrong Side of History:

"Only democracy can end the crisis in Nepal, but the US, EU and India back the king and his attempts to crush the Maoist uprising

by Isabel Hilton

In the rapidly moving crisis in Nepal, a few lines are clear. King Gyanendra, with the desperation of the failing despot, tosses a small concession from his leaking boat. On the streets, the democracy movement reacts with contempt and a renewed determination to be rid of him. In the hills, the Maoists watch, alert for signs of betrayal by the seven political parties with whom they signed an agreement last November to push for a constituent assembly and a democratic constitution. Nepal - the world's only Hindu kingdom, with a population of 28 million people - is on the edge of a collapse, with far-reaching implications for the entire region. And in the shadows, the external powers, India, the US, China and Europe, are pulling strings, trying to exert leverage on this complex situation. So far, their intervention has been inglorious.

In India there is a growing outcry at the part played by the prime minister and his special envoy, Karan Singh. Dr Singh was not an accidental choice. The son of the last maharajah of Kashmir, he had to flee his own royal palace as a boy. His wife is a member of the Rana family, until 1960 Nepal's corrupt and despotic hereditary prime ministers. And her niece, Devyani Rana, is the woman for whom Nepal's crown prince massacred most of his family in 2002. "

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