Nepal: Maoists to meet with king?

Nepal’s Maoist leader, known as Prachanda—whose party won the most seats in last month’s Constituent Assembly elections on an anti-monarchist platform—says he has received indications from the royal palace that King Gyanendra is willing to meet him to discuss the the country’s future. He says he is willing to arrange a “graceful exit” for the king, but insists abolition of the monarchy is the only option. (BBC, May 7)

The Communist Party of Nepal-Maoist (CPNM) won overwhelming support from Nepal’s Dalits or “untouchables,” and other excluded groups, such as indigenous Janjati and Madhesi peoples. According to a 2001 census by Nepal’s Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS), Dalits make up about 13% of the country’s 29 million inhabitants. However, some local NGOs say Dalits make up more than 20% of the population. (IRIN, April 27)

While not on the US State Department’s list of “foreign terrorist organizations,” it is listed under “groups of concern” (despite having laid down arms to participate in the elections). (US State Department press release, April 2007)

See our last post on Nepal.