- The Washington Times - Friday, April 2, 2004

NEPAL

100 injured in anti-king protests

KATMANDU — Nepalese police fired tear gas and used truncheons to break up a rally in the capital yesterday to press King Gyanendra to fire his royalist prime minister and form an all-party government.

More than 100 protesters were injured in clashes with police that began after the demonstrators tried to defy a government order banning rallies on key streets leading to the king’s palace and government buildings in the capital.

Organizers of the protests have called for a general strike today.



Five political parties have been protesting since the king suspended democracy and assumed executive powers in October 2002.

Nepal is also battling an increasingly bloody Maoist revolt that has claimed more than 9,250 lives and hit the impoverished economy.

GEORGIA

Saakashvili’s party owns parliament

TBILISI — The official result of Georgia’s parliamentary election gave President Mikhail Saakashvili’s party Wednesday a resounding two-thirds majority amid the first rumblings of a potentially explosive protest from Adjara province on the Black Sea.

The Georgian reformist leader’s National Movement-Democratic Front, with 67.2 percent of the vote in Sunday’s election, held on to a majority of the seats in the new parliament. The only other group to surmount the required 7 percent barrier was the pro-business New Right party, which got 7.62 percent and is expected to form a small and moderate opposition in parliament.

But there were complaints about the results from Adjara and its leader, Aslan Abashidze. His Revival party got only 6.02 percent of the vote. Mr. Abashidze is considered the Georgian president’s main political rival, and he vowed to fight the vote’s outcome — which he said was fixed — through demonstrations and a provincewide referendum.

Weekly notes

Amnesty International joined international calls Thursday for Burma’s junta to release opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi and up to 1,400 other political prisoners before issuing a “road map to democracy” in May. Amnesty also urged the ruling generals to guarantee freedom of speech for participants at a national convention convening May 17 to draft a new constitution. … Gurcharan Singh Tohra, 80, a top Sikh leader, died Thursday in a New Delhi hospital after a heart attack, plunging India’s Punjab state into two days of official mourning. Mr. Tohra died hours after being airlifted to New Delhi from Amritsar, the holy Sikh city, where he had been treated for a massive heart attack last week. Doctors said he had another heart attack in New Delhi.

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