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Nepalese king declares state of emergency after sacking government

[JURIST] After summoning the Prime Minister for an emergency meeting [Himalayan News Service report], Nepal's King Gyanendra [BBC profile] sacked the country's government Tuesday and declared a state of emergency, cutting phone lines, shutting down the airport and sending armed vehicles on patrol. In a formal announcement King Gyanendra said, "I have decided to dissolve the government because it has failed to make necessary arrangements to hold elections by April and protect democracy, the sovereignty of the people and life and property." Insisting he was committed to democracy and multi-party rule, King Gyanendra indicated that he would form a new cabinet. Several prominent government and political leaders, including Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba [official profile] have been placed under house arrest. Communist Party leader Madhav Nepal, now also under house arrest, called King Gyanendra's efforts a coup d'etat, saying that "If the king is really acting in the interest of the people and the nation, he could have talked to us and he could have shown his concern over the worsening security situation here. But the king has not talked to any of the people. He has sacked the present government and he is blaming all the political parties." BBC News has more, along with an analysis of the implications of King Gyanendra's move. Nepal has been wracked by a nine-year Maoist rebel insurgency during which more than 10,000 people have died; just last week, visiting UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour chastised the Nepalese government [BBC report] for not doing enough to end human rights abuses in the area. Many observers have suggested that the security situation in the country would make the holding of any elections impossible. Nepal has been without an elected Parliament since the last one was dissolved in 2002.

2:10 PM ET - Read UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan's statement [text] on the situation in Nepal.

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