The Corner

Freedom Is Contagious!

KATHMANDU, Nepal (AP) – Nepal’s king has vowed to return power to the people of this Himalayan kingdom after weeks of massive protests and mounting international pressure.

King Gyanendra said Friday his dynasty had “unflinching commitment toward constitutional monarchy and multiparty democracy” and he called on the seven main political parties to name a prime minister as soon as possible.

“Executive power … shall, from this day, be returned to the people,” he said in the announcement that was broadcast on state television and radio.

While the king appeared to be giving up most — and perhaps all — of his power, it remained unclear if his announcement would mollify his political opponents who launched a general strike on April 6 and drew tens of thousands to the streets daily.

Political leaders were in meetings after his announcement and could not be reached for comment.

Just hours earlier, more than 100,000 pro-democracy protesters defied a government curfew despite shoot-on-sight orders and filled the streets on the outskirts of Katmandu, Nepal’s capital.

As the tension grew, so did the international pressure on Gyanendra, who seized power in February 2005, saying he needed to crush the Maoist insurgency that has killed nearly 13,000 people in a decade.

If I were Tony Snow, I’d totally give Bush credit for the freedom’s advance in Kathmandu.

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