Nepal’s royalist government May 18 freed nine opposition political leaders detained since King Gyanendra seized sweeping emergency powers over three months ago. Nepal’s Supreme Court one day earlier ruled the politicians had been held illegally, and ordered that the detainees, including three former ministers, be freed from police detention. But the same day they were released, authorities held for questioning Kanak Mani Dixit, a leading journalist and commentator who, in a newspaper article in April, urged the king to become a ceremonial head and stay out of politics. This was the latest in a series of detainments of Nepalese journalists since the king seized emergency powers. (Reuters, May 18)
Violence continues to spread in Nepal’s countryside. Dozens are reported to have died in fierce clashes this week between soldiers and Maoist rebels in Nepal’s eastern Udaipur district. However, the two sides both (predictably) insist they inflicted heavy losses while suffering minor ones themselves. Military officials say 48 rebels and nine security personnel died; the Maoists that 35 soldiers died and only three rebels. They agree the fighting was around the remote village of Lek on Monday. About 12,000 people have died in 10 years of Maoist insurgency that is aimed at replacing the monarchy with a communist republic. (BBC, May 18)
In another sign of normalization of King Gyanendra’s new dictatorship, India, which had suspended military aid to Nepal after the state of emergency was imposed, has now resumed arms shipments. (Times of India, May 18)
See our last blog post on the ongoing crisis in Nepal.