- Title: NEPAL: Nepal parliament reopens with ailing PM-designate absent
- Date: 29th April 2006
- Summary: LOWER HOUSE DEPUTY SPEAKER CHITRALEKHA YADHAV ENTERS CHAMBER, SITS DOWN TO START PARLIAMENTARY SESSION TO APPLAUSE (2 SHOTS)
- Embargoed: 14th May 2006 13:00
- Location: Nepal
- Country: Nepal
- Topics: Domestic Politics
- Reuters ID: LVA5AAFK5GO2JBRIU773TPNCF4QS
- Story Text: Nepal's parliament opened on Friday (April 28) for the first time in four years, but the country's 84-year-old prime minister-designate was too ill to attend the opening or his swearing-in ceremony.
The House began with two minutes of silence for the victims of this month's anti-monarchy and pro-democracy street protests, in which at least 13 people died and thousands were wounded.
In a written statement to parliament, the absent premier-in-waiting, Girija Prasad Koirala, promised to call elections to a special assembly to draw up a new constitution, hold talks with Maoist rebels and declare a ceasefire.
"I have already proposed for the constituent assembly today realising the commitment to solve the country's problems is through the constituent assembly," acting speaker Chitralekha Yadhav said, reading Koirala's statement.
The acting speaker said a debate would be held on Sunday on Koirala's proposals.
"This government will take into consideration the basic needs of the people waiting outside to have a constituent assembly and through that, to solve all their demands. I am confident it will pave the way to fulfill their aspirations," said Madhav Kumar Nepal, general secretary of the Communist Party of Nepal (UML) after the session ended.
Outside, thousands of Nepalis surrounded the gates of parliament, waving party flags and chanting slogans to keep up pressure for a new constitution and a curb on the king's powers.
They were demanding elections be called for a special assembly to write a new constitution and review the role of the monarchy -- or even abolish it.
"Democracy hasn't yet come, our struggle continues," they chanted.
Thousands gathered to attend the first public rally in three years to be addressed by a senior leader of the Maoist rebel movement, declaring a unilateral ceasefire.
Many had the Maoist flag draped around them to show their strong support of the Maoist party.
The rally was organised by a group of Nepal's many communist parties.
The Maoists have said they were expecting parliament to declare elections on Friday. Those demands were underlined by the leader of the Maoists' student wing who addressed a public rally in the capital despite an arrest warrant against him.
"Our hands are not only used for making a fist," said Maoist leader Lekha Nath Neupane at the rally. "We are engaged in a revolution for peace but if necessary we can pick up guns and bombs again."
Life has largely returned to normal in Nepal since the country's mainstream political parties called off their campaign.
That followed King Gyanendra's announcement on Monday evening that he was reviving parliament and surrendering power to the parties who led the protests.
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