The Parliament of Nepal issued the King an eviction notice today: you’re not the king anymore, so get out of the Royal Palace in 15 days. His Majesty’s failure to timely vacate the premises, I presume, will result in further legal action being taken against him and may tend to damage his credit rating.
King Gyanendra has been “ruling” the country since 2001, when his nephew the Crown Prince went on a Virginia Tech-style rampage and shot up the Royal Palace, killing most of his family and eventually himself. (For several hours, it seems, he was King himself, having shot his father to death, before he checked himself out.) Gyanedra has proven very unpopular and in 2006 agreed to hand off the bulk of his governmental authority to Parliament.
Here’s where it gets just a bit ambiguous for me. Moving to a democratic form of government is presumptively a good thing. And doing that convinced the Maoist rebels waging guerilla warfare across the country to lay down their arms and register to vote instead. Which they did, and then the Maoists got a huge majority in Parliament. And it’s the Maoists who led the charge to abolish the monarchy today.
So I like the idea of democracy taking power in Nepal and I applaud that the transition there appears to be moving forward peacefully and lawfully. I applaud the Nepalese for dispensing with the form of a king; there is no particular need for such people in today’s modern world despite the romanticism and obviously enjoyable pageantry associated with monarchy. (Yeah, that’s right, I’m looking at you, Elizabeth Windsor.)
But Maoists are not, as a rule, very nice people. Some might go so far as to call them “terrorists.” Alas, one of the problems with democracy is that sometimes the people make bad choices. And here, the Nepalese may well be giving power to some people who are not at all shy about using guns to enforce ruthlessly collectivist socialism and ideological purity. A junta is scarcely better than a dictatorship.
Picture source: Time Magazine.