Authorities in Nepal have ordered a curfew on the eve of a mass rally called by opponents of King Gyanendra’s rule. This, and the reported deaths of four anti-monarchy protestors in clashes with police, is likely to intensify the country’s political crisis. It was the bloodiest day so far in two weeks of demonstrations against the King.
There have been more arrests, but in what analysts say may be a conciliatary gesture, two top political prisoners have been released. India has sent an envoy to its Himalayan neighbour to express concern about the situation. But Dr Karan Singh gave little away, however: “I bring good wishes from the people of India to the people of Nepal. I bring a prayer and a hope that Nepal will get out of the present difficult situation and return to peace and prosperity,” he said.
Widespread strikes and road blockades are beginning to take a heavy economic toll on the country. Protesters are campaigning for the restoration of democracy more than a year after the King sacked the government and assumed full power.