Nepal: Battle Royal In Katmandu

Battle Royal In Katmandu

King Birendra Shah has ruled Nepal since 1972 without much of a nod to democracy. Political parties are outlawed, and the King effectively controls the parliament. Last week, as he confronted an increasingly militant popular movement for democracy, the monarch decided to appear conciliatory. He dismissed his hard-line Cabinet and promised to create a new government that would "consult people holding different political views."

Rather than ease tensions, Birendra's move sparked the worst violence and the most serious threat to his authority since pro-democracy forces took to the streets two months ago. As 200,000 demonstrators marched toward the royal palace in...

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