2/03/2005

Nepal Muzzles Its Press

King Gyanendra of Nepal, having sacked the civilian government and declared a state of emergency, has now imposed total censorship on the country's media.

Reports critical of the state of emergency declared on Tuesday have been banned for six months, according to a notice in the main daily newspaper.

Phone lines and internet links remain cut, so news of a strike call by Maoist rebels has not reached the public.
The Nepalese system rests upon a political tripod - a most unstable of structures:
  1. King Gyanendra, who assumed the throne in 2001 after his brother was killed in a massacre at the palace,
  2. The nation's political parties, who want a return of parliamentary government, and
  3. Maoist rebels, who have been fighting a civil war since winning only 9 out of 205 seats in the parliamentary elections of 1996.
Each of the three is wary of the other two uniting against it, and equally as wary of exhausting the patience of the Nepalese people. None of the three has proven capable of imposing their own solution to the three-way struggle for power, with the result being this seemingly unending string of incidents and episodes as each of the major players tries to improve its position against the other two.

With the press muzzled and communications in and out of the country severely limited, King Gyenandra has something of a free hand for the time being. He has promised to name a new cabinet and begin reconstructing a civilian government; if he dallies, he may join his brother.