Alarmed in Nepal
Byline: James Morrison, THE WASHINGTON TIMES
Alarmed in Nepal
Nepal is heading toward chaos unless the king restores civil liberties in a nation in political crisis and under siege from Maoist rebels intent on spreading their ideology throughout Southeast Asia, the U.S. ambassador warned in the capital, Katmandu, this week.
"Nepal today is at a crossroads," Ambassador James F. Moriarty told the Nepal Council of World Affairs.
"Unless the principles of freedom, civil rights and democracy once again take root through a process of true reconciliation among the legitimate political forces, I fear that your country will inexorably slide toward confrontation, confusion and chaos."
Mr. Moriarty called on King Gyanendra to release political prisoners and restore all civil liberties, including freedom of the press and political expression.
He called on Nepal's political parties to keep an "open mind" and "accept a hand, if offered," from the palace.
"That doesn't mean accepting everything the government says at face value, but it does mean being willing to negotiate in good faith to find a solution to Nepal's problems," Mr. Moriarty said.
"The people want reconciliation. They want peace. The way to achieve peace is with a democratic government united against the Maoist assault on Nepal."
In 1996, the Maoist United People's Front "began a violent insurgency, waged through killing, torture, bombings, kidnappings, extortion and intimidation against civilians, police and public officials in more than 50 of the country's 75 districts," according to a State Department background report on Nepal.
To compound the civil war, Nepal's democratic system collapsed in 2002 when the king dissolved parliament and declared a state of emergency. Nepal has been spiraling toward chaos since June 2001, when Crown Prince Dipendra killed his father, King Birendra, his mother, Queen Aishwarya, his uncle, Prince Dhirendra, a brother, a sister and several aunts before committing suicide. …