Magazine article The Christian Century

Christians Hail Nepal's Shift to Secular Republic

Magazine article The Christian Century

Christians Hail Nepal's Shift to Secular Republic

Article excerpt

Christians in Nepal have joined in celebrations to mark the transition of the Himalayan Hindu kingdom of Nepal into a secular republic after a decision by the nation's newly elected constituent assembly to abolish the monarchy.

"This is a victory for people and bodes well for freedom of religion," said Simon Pandey, the general secretary of the National Churches Fellowship of Nepal.

Thousands of people gathered in Kathmandu outside the convention hall on May 28 when the constituent assembly was meeting for the first time since the April elections. They sprinkled vermilion, a red-tinged powder, on each other to celebrate the rebirth of Nepal as a secular republic.

Pandey said churches had been "eagerly looking forward to this day" since a pro-democracy movement began two years ago.

A decade-long insurrection seeking abolition of the monarchy in the Himalayan kingdom had claimed over 13,000 lives before massive pro-democracy protests led by Maoists, and supported by opposition parties, forced King Gyanendra to abdicate power in April 2006.

The interim government, led by an opposition alliance that took control, declared a truce with the Maoists, who then joined the interim administration. …

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