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Nepal royal curfew prevents pro-democracy protest rally

[JURIST] King Gyanendra [official profile; BBC profile] of Nepal [JURIST news archive] announced a strict all-day curfew Saturday that forced pro-democracy leaders to postpone a large rally organized by the country's seven main political parties. He ordered violators to be shot on sight. Government officials said the curfew was imposed out of concern that Maoist rebels would use the rally as a cover to launch terrorist attacks. A Communist Party of Nepal [advocacy website] leader said protestors hope to reschedule the rally for Sunday, continuing a general strike that has been ongoing for several days. Gyanendra's curfew came just two days after police arrested 300 protestors [JURIST report] in 16 demonstrations across the capital city of Kathmandu. Witnesses claimed police opened fire on protestors Saturday in the city of Pokhara where one person died and at least two sustained injuries.

Earlier this week, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan [official website] criticized [statement text] Gyanendra's various efforts to counteract anti-government protests. In a televised address Friday, Gyanendra made his first public plea for peace. AP has more.

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