Nepal’s government formally told the deposed monarch Friday to vacate the royal palace within the next two weeks, and a palace official said the king was preparing to move to his palatial private home in Katmandu.
Hours later, a bomb exploded near a mass rally in the capital being addressed by leader of the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) — former communist rebels who have emerged as the largest political party.
No one was hurt in the blast, and police were investigating, said police official Suresh Shah.
As word of the expulsion order spread, Nepali television stations broadcast video filmed overnight of trucks being driven from the palace to King Gyanendra’s private home.
A new republic
The order to leave the concrete palace that dominates downtown Katmandu comes two days after Nepal’s newly elected lawmakers, led by the former communist insurgents, declared the country a republic, ending a dynasty that had reigned for 239 years.
Home Secretary Umesh Mainali said the order was delivered to the palace Friday morning.
At midday Friday, Gyanendra was still in the palace, although his daughter-in-law, Hemani, had moved to a private home in the northern part of the city just after midnight, the home secretary said.
A palace official said Gyanendra was preparing to move to the Nirmal Niwas, the walled compound in Katmandu where he lived with his family before becoming king in June 2001. The official insisted on speaking anonymously in line with palace rules.
Thousands of supporters waved the communist party’s red flag Friday as they gathered at the Tudikhel grounds to celebrate the declaration of the republic.
Addressing the rally, Maoist leader Prachanda demanded the immediate resignation of Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala so a new coalition government could be formed.
“It is the international norm that as soon as the prime minister’s party loses election they immediately resign, but that is not happening here,” Prachanda, who goes by one name, told the cheering crowd.
Koirala’s office announced last week he had agreed to step down and allow the Maoists to form a new government. However, he has not given any indication when he will step aside.
Mainali, the home secretary, said security around the palace had been stepped up after police briefly clashed with anti-monarchy protesters outside the royal compound Thursday.
The clashes came as a palace official replaced the royal flag, a square standard decorated with a flag-waving lion, with the national flag, a red banner of two triangles adorned with a sun and moon.
The monarchy’s end was the culmination of a two-year peace process that saw Nepal’s communist rebels transformed from feared insurgents into the country’s dominant political force