Nepal: The King and Mao

Maoist insurgency might sound like a historical note from a world that knew nothing of the ‘war’ against terror or the ‘axis of evil’, but in Nepal it is all too real.

The World Today Published 1 February 2003 Updated 21 October 2020 4 minute READ

John Mackinlay

Bishnu Upreti

King's Centre for Risk Management

To deal with the situation, rule from the palace has now replaced democracy. The death toll – already in the thousands – keeps climbing.

After forcing the Nepalese government to abandon elections in November, the Maoist insurgency convincingly demonstrated its control of rural areas. Although King Gyanendra’s assumption of power in Kathmandu has provided much-needed respite from violence and uncertainty, his administration has failed to maintain public confidence because of its inability to provide security.

With rising prices and falling confidence, the honeymoon between the people and the King’s emergency administration is over. He has some tough assignments ahead. Restoring workable security in rural areas and a return to constitutional democracy require social reform and some serious compromises by the ruling classes. As things stand, the Kathmandu elite is not ready to make these concessions, but nor are they able to end the insurgency.

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