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Surya Bahadur Thapa appointed new Nepalese premier

June 04, 2003 20:18 IST

Ignoring the opposition's demand for formation of an all-party government, Nepal's King Gyanendra on Wednesday appointed veteran politician and known pro-monarchist Surya Bahadur Thapa as the Himalayan kingdom's new prime minister.

Thapa (75) comes from the same party as his predecessor, Lokendra Bahadur Chand, who stepped down last Friday after weeks of protests by opposition parties angry at his appointment.

Thapa assumes the office of the prime minister for the fifth time.

A palace statement said the king has 'vested executive rights in him'.

Though Thapa is a pro-monarchist, he had joined leaders of other main parties in criticising the king for his decision in October to sack elected prime minister Sher Bahadur Deuba, postpone elections and appoint Chand as premier.

The opposition had nominated a candidate of its own for prime minister.

Analysts say King Gyanendra's new appointment is unlikely to placate the opposition.

Thapa has been appointed prime minister at a crucial stage in the midst of peace talks between the government and Maoist rebels who have been trying to rid the country of the monarchy since 1996.

Shirish B Pradhan in Kathmandu
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