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Nepal declared secular republic
Shirish B Pradhan in Kathmandu
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May 28, 2008 23:42 IST
Last Updated: May 28, 2008 23:56 IST

Nepal on Wednesday scripted a new chapter in its turbulent history as the new Constituent Assembly abolished the 240-year-old monarchy and declared the country a "secular, federal democratic republic."

The 601-member assembly met at the Birendra International Convention Centre on Wednesday evening where a motion was passed to declare the country the world's newest republic.

After a series of meetings, the Seven Party Alliance agreed to table the motion of republic in the first meeting of the Constituent Assembly, dominated by Maoists.

Out of 601 members of the Constituent Assembly, 572 were present during Wednesday's meeting.

The motion to declare the country a republic was moved by Home Minister Krishna Prasad Sitola on behalf of Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala.

The motion was passed by 560 votes in favour while four members opposed it.

The motion said that Nepal will be a secular, federal, democratic republic nation and the king, Gyanendra will be reduced to a common citizen.

The king will lose all the cultural, administrative and political powers. The king and the royal family members will enjoy the rights that are meant for any common man, the motion said.

It said the May 28 will be celebrated as the Republic Day of the nation every year. There will be president who will be the head of the state while the prime minister will be the executive head.

The four members who opposed the motion are members of the pro-king Rashtriya Prajatantra Party-Nepal, Constituent Assembly Chairman Kulbahadur Gurung announced after the voting.

The country was declared republic as per Article 159 of the interim Constitution, he said.

The ruling alliance had earlier agreed to give 15 days time to the king to leave the Narayanhiti palace, which will be converted into a museum.

The then king in Nepal, Mahendra had dismissed the elected government in 1960 when B P Koirala, the brother of Prime Minister G P Koirala, was heading it.

The Cabinet is yet to nominate 26 members and three were absent.

Earlier on Wednesday the CA meeting was postponed in the morning as more time was needed for the political parties to arrive at consensus regarding the issue of making separate provision of president.

Besides lawmakers, a large number of diplomats, senior government officials, journalists and civil society members were present at the CA meeting venue.

The political parties have already agreed to create a post of president, armed with the powers of imposing emergency and carrying the title of the Supreme Commander of the Nepal Army, according to Nepali Congress sources.

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