Nepal parliament formally abolishes monarchy
Nepal lawmakers yesterday formally approved a decision to abolish the monarchy and declare the country a republic as part of a deal with former Maoist rebels.
However, King Gyanendra will remain on the throne for the time being as the agreement between the Maoists and the government last weekend to make Nepal a republic can only be put into effect at the first meeting of a new constituent assembly.
Polls for that assembly are due to be held by mid-April.
In Friday's vote, out of 321 parliamentarians, 270 voted for abolition of monarchy and three voted against. The remainder were absent or abstained.
The constitutional amendment was tabled in parliament after the government and Maoists reached a 23-point deal agreeing to abolish the monarchy that ended Nepal's long-running peace deadlock.
"The constitution has been amended by two-thirds majority," Speaker Subash Nemwang said.
The move paves the way for Nepal to be declared a federal democratic republic.
Nepal's 61-year-old monarch has already been stripped of most of his powers, including his roles as head of state and army chief, since mass protests forced an end to a 14-month period of his authoritarian rule in April 2006.
The amendment also gives lawmakers the power to make Nepal a republic ahead of the polls by a two-thirds majority if the king attempts to disrupt the elections.
The Maoists, who stormed out of the interim government in September demanding greater power-sharing, agreed to rejoin the government after striking the agreement at the weekend.
The former rebels had called for the immediate abolition of the monarchy as one of their key demands to ensure fair elections that would shape the country's political future.
After months of wrangling, the ultra-leftists abandoned demands for full proportional representation, which analysts said the rebels wanted in order to give them more seats.
The Maoists formally ended their decade-long insurgency that claimed more than 13,000 lives after striking a landmark peace deal in November last year.
The former rebels came out of the jungle and joined with the mainstream political parties after weeks of massive pro-democracy protests forced King Gyanendra to end his 14 months of direct rule in April 2006.