Nepal's Kingdom of Discontent
[b]Nepal's Kingdom of Discontent[/b]
By Jo Johnson - The Financial Times
Every time Paras, Nepal's unpopular crown prince, leaves the royal palace in Kathmandu, he unwittingly pushes the Himalayan kingdom a step closer towards a republican revolution. When his bodyguards menace people in bars, when he blocks traffic in the capital so he can roar around on a Harley-Davidson flanked by gun-toting outriders and when he shows himself to be indifferent to the miseries of a people caught up in a lethal war between security forces and Maoist insurgents, he is an anti-model for the dynastic principle. Nepal is a feudal society but, as the cartoons in the daily papers show, traditional respect for its god-king is crumbling.
King Gyanendra, who threw out Nepal’s government and seized absolute power last February, has more urgent concerns than bringing a wayward son and heir to heel. He is facing an unprecedented threat to the throne he inherited from his murdered brother after the royal massacre of 2001. A new alliance between Maoist fighters and a coalition of seven political parties has left the palace isolated.