Ex-king raises hope of return

KATHMANDU: The former king of Nepal has hinted he hopes the country's centuries-old Hindu monarchy may one day be restored, nearly two years after he was dethroned.

Ex-king Gyanendra lost his royal title in 2008 after Nepal's Maoists, who had fought a decade-long civil war with the state, won landmark polls and scrapped the world's last Hindu monarchy.

"I don't think the monarchy is over," he said in a rare interview, broadcast late Wednesday by Nepal's Avenues Television, a 24-hour news channel.

"History shows that the monarchy has had its ups and downs... But I will do whatever the people want me do."

Gyanendra came to the throne in 2001 after a palace massacre in which his nephew, the then crown prince, gunned down most of the royal family -- including the king and queen -- before shooting himself.

Gyanendra became deeply unpopular when he seized direct control of the nation in 2005, claiming mainstream parties had failed to tackle the Maoist insurgency.

The takeover pushed political parties and rebel Maoists into an alliance that eventually led to the fall of the monarchy.

But, at a time of growing political uncertainty, the royal family remains respected among some older Nepalese.

"I left (the throne) without objections so that this country would see peace and prosperity. My forefathers united this country and I hope that unity will not broken," Gyanendra said.

Nepal's lawmakers have been unable to agree on many key issues as they struggle to draft a new constitution, which looks unlikely to be completed by a May 28 deadline.