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Report: Nepal King Appoints PM

October 11, 2002

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KATHMANDU, Nepal (AP) _ Nepal’s King Gyanendra named the head of a pro-monarchy party the new prime minister on Friday, party officials said, a week after he fired the government and took political control of the Himalayan nation.

Lokendra Bahadur Chand, who served as prime minister once before, will head a six-member caretaker Cabinet. He heads the Rastriya Prajatantra Party.

``We have heard about the appointment, but we are still waiting for the announcement from the royal palace,″ said Prakash Chandra Lohni, vice president of the party.

The king held separate meetings Friday morning with the leaders of the six major political parties after a week’s delay. The party leaders had said they wanted to have a voice in the formation of an interim government until elections can be held.

Gyanendra indefinitely postponed the elections that had been scheduled to start Nov. 13, when he fired Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba and his Cabinet on Oct. 4.

Gyanendra’s moves marked the first time since the end of Nepal’s absolute monarchy in 1990 that a king waded into politics. The king still is seen by many here as a god, though his role has been mostly ceremonial.

Gyanendra dismissed Deuba after he asked the monarch to postpone parliamentary elections by a year because of the threat of disruption by rebels who have been fighting to abolish Nepal’s constitutional monarchy.

Gyanendra ascended to the throne last year after his brother, King Birendra, and eight other royal family members were killed in a palace massacre. A government inquiry later found that the then-crown prince shot the other victims before taking his own life.

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