[JURIST] AP is reporting that Nepal's King Gyanendra [official profile; BBC profile] has said that executive power "shall be returned to the people from this day forward." Gyanendra's statement follows a last attempt to put an end to pro-democracy protests [JURIST news archive] against Gyanendra's rule by imposing an 11-hour curfew in the city of Kathmandu. The shoot-on-sight curfew had little effect however, as more than 100,000 protesters gathered on the outskirts of the city in the 16th day of protests.
Last week, Gyanendra promised to hold general elections [JURIST report] by April 2007 and to open a dialogue with opposition parties, but his speech had little effect as he has made similar pledges in the past. Nepalese police have fired on protesters [JURIST report] with increasing frequency in the past few days, prompting a group of UN human rights experts to condemn the use of excessive and deadly force [JURIST report] to try and quell the demonstrations. AP has more.
9:38 AM ET - In his televised address to the country, Gyanendra invited opposition parties to propose their candidates for prime minister, but did not set a date for elections. BBC News has more.
10:42 AM ET - Gyanendra said that he would transfer executive power to the people under Article 35 of the Nepal constitution [full text], which states:
(1) The executive power of the Kingdom of Nepal shall, pursuant to this Constitution and other laws, be vested in His Majesty and the Council of Ministers.Gyanendra said that he will continue to preside over the current government until another government can be formed by a prime minister to be recommended by opposition parties. Read the full text of Gyanendra's proclamation, available via eKantipur.com.
(2) Except as otherwise expressly provided as to be exercised exclusively by His Majesty or at His discretion or on the recommendation of any institution or official, the powers of His Majesty under this Constitution shall be exercised upon the recommendation and advice and with the consent of the Council of Ministers. Such recommendation, advice and consent shall be submitted through the Prime Minister.
(3) The responsibility of issuing general directives, controlling and regulating the administration of the Kingdom of Nepal shall, subject to this Constitution and other laws, lie in the Council of Ministers.
(4) Except in so far as any action is to be taken in the name of His Majesty pursuant to this Constitution and other laws, all other executive actions shall be expressed to be taken in the name of His Majesty's Government.
(5) Any decision, order or implementation warrant to be issued in the name of His Majesty pursuant to this Constitution and other laws shall be authenticated in such manner as may be set forth in rules made by His Majesty at His discretion. All other decisions, orders and implementation warrants to be issued in the name of the Council of Ministers pursuant to clause (4) above shall be authenticated in such manner as may be set forth in rules approved by His Majesty.
(6) No question shall be raised in any court as to whether or not any recommendation or advice has been given to His Majesty pursuant to this Constitution by the Council of Ministers or any other institution or official, nor shall any question be raised in any court about what recommendation or advice has been given.