Nepal's deposed king steps up public appearances amid crisis

65-year-old Gyanendra attended a 'mahayagya' and offered puja at Bhaktapur's Latarembheswor Temple, which is some 25-km east of Kathmandu.He has kept a low profile since he left the Narayanhiti royal palace in June 2008, when the country's Constituent Assembly voted to abolish the centuries-old monarchy and declare a republic.

However, the former monarch has lately increased his appearances at public and religious functions, including visiting important temples across the country amid pomp and show.

Supporters of the monarchy in Nepal, where kings have been revered as the reincarnation of the Lord Vishnu, have demanded a national referendum to decide if the monarchy should be revived.Even Gyanendra has hinted that the monarchy may one day be restored. In an interview aired last year, the deposed king did not rule out the revival of the monarchy if the people believed the institution was important for the country.

Mass protests against Gyanendra, who became the king in 2001 after the death of his elder brother Birendra in a palace massacre, finally culminated in the abolition of the monarchy soon after the United CPN-Maoist emerged as the largest party in the 2008 assembly polls.The visit to the Latarembheswor Temple, where the former king arrived today to offer prayers, was marred by a scuffle between the security personnel and journalists seeking to get the monarch's view on the current crisis in the country.
Some half a dozen journalists were injured and video cameras broken, according to sources. Journalists have demanded action against the aides of the former monarch who allegedly beat up journalists.

The high-profile public appearances of Gyanendra comes amid a deepening constitutional crisis in the country due to the failure of the political parties to elect a new premier following the resignation of Madhav Kumar Nepal.

The country has been in political limbo since the resignation of Nepal, who is currently heading a caretaker government.

A run-off poll for the post of Prime Minister ended in a fiasco on July 23, with both Maoist supremo Prachanda and his Nepali Congress rival 65-year-old Ramchandra Poudyal failing to get a majority support in the 601-member parliament. The House will hold yet another election on August 2

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