Committee on International Relations
U.S. House of Representatives
Henry J. Hyde, Chairman

CONTACT: Sam Stratman, (202) 226-7875, March 1, 2005

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For IMMEDIATE Release

Political Turmoil in Nepal
Leach Schedules Hearing on Growing Calamity

BACKGROUND:  On February 1st, in a move that may well accelerate Nepal’s slide into chaos, King Gyanendra dismissed the royalist government and seized direct control of that Himalayan kingdom.  The move was justified on the tenuous grounds that the Prime Minister failed to secure a dialogue with the country’s powerful Maoist insurgents, as well as on his apparent inability to organize elections – goals that would have been impossible for any Nepalese government official to secure under present circumstances. To solidify his control in Kathmandu, King Gyanendra placed political party leaders under house arrest, key constitutional rights were suspended, the army was deployed to enforce censorship of the media, and communications were cut. India, the United States, and the European Union all immediately condemned King Gyanendra’s actions for undercutting Nepal's democratic institutions and undermining the Nepali struggle with the Maoist insurgency.  In coordinated statements, India the U.S. and the EU urged the restoration of democratic institutions under a constitutional monarchy. They also called upon the Maoists to abandon their armed struggle and join the country's political mainstream through dialogue. To emphasize their displeasure with the King’s action, all three also recalled their Ambassadors for consultations. On February 22nd, two days after the Indian Ambassador returned to Kathmandu, London and Delhi announced jointly that they were suspending their military aid programs to Nepal.  For its part, Washington has also indicated that U.S. military assistance is at risk unless King Gyanendra moves quickly to restore democracy. In the past two years, the United States has provided more than $20 million in assistance to the Nepalese Army, primarily in weapons and training programs to help it combat a

nine-year communist insurgency, which has killed more than 11,000 people. This hearing will examine the implications for Nepal of the “royal coup,” prospects for the re-establishment of constitutional rule, including restoration of all suspended freedoms, and options for U.S. policy.

WHAT: Subcommittee Oversight Hearing: The Crisis in Nepal

Subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific, U.S. Rep. James A. Leach (R-IA), Chairman
 
WHEN: 1:30 p.m., Wednesday, March 2, 2005
 
WHERE: Room 2172 Rayburn House Office Building
 
WITNESS: Christina B. Rocca, Assistant Secretary, Bureau of South Asian Affairs, U.S. Department of State

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