Nepal extends emergency rule to fight Maoists


Nepal's King Gyanendra extended a state of emergency today, giving security forces sweeping search and detention powers to crush an increasingly violent Maoist revolt. The emergency rule was first imposed on the poverty-ridden Himalayan kingdom last November to stamp out the six-year-old rebellion by the Maoists, who are battling to topple the constitutional monarchy and install a communist republic.

The emergency has been extended by the king according to the constitution for another three months, state-run radio said. A row over the extension of the security measure to end the revolt that has claimed more than 4,000 lives - 2,000 in the past six months - has plunged Nepal into political turmoil.

The extension was fiercely opposed by some members of the ruling Nepali Congress party which expelled Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba from its ranks on Sunday. Deuba was ejected after he had the parliament dissolved and called elections next November

Deuba, who will remain prime minister as head of a caretaker government until the elections, asked the king to extend the state of emergency. The revolt against the re-imposition of the state of emergency was led by Deuba's predecessor, Girija Prasad Koirala.

The dissidents in the Nepali Congress lined up with opposition parties against the extension, saying a new anti-terrorist law was harsh enough to fight the rebels.

Political analysts said the row really had more to do with infighting in the feud-ridden Nepali Congress, which has dominated the impoverished country's politics since Nepal became a democracy in 1990.

Human rights groups say there is a major overlap between the state of emergency and the anti-terrorist law, with both allowing 90-day detention without trial and giving security forces the right to restrict peoples' movements.