Saturday, October 25, 2008

Nepal ex-king told to pay bills

Former king Gyanendra of Nepal leaves the palace in Kathmandu with his wife Komal
Gyanendra left the main royal palace in June

Nepal's former royals must pay unpaid bills of more than $1m within 15 days or power to their homes could be cut off, the state utility company says.

The Nepal Electricity Authority (NEA) says the former royals must pay arrears dating back several years for power to 22 palaces and bungalows.

It is a further blow to a family which ruled for centuries before the monarchy was abolished in May.

There was no immediate response from ex-King Gyanendra or his family.

'Clear the bills'

The former royals still own many palaces and bungalows in the capital, Kathmandu, and elsewhere in Nepal.

"We have given him 15 days to clear the bills," said a senior official at the NEA, Deepak Prasad Upadhyay, Reuters news agency reports.

"If this is not done we'll cut off the power supply."

The BBC's Surendra Phuyal in Kathmandu says the public demand may be a way of putting pressure on the former royal family.

It is not clear when the bills date back to, or which buildings they cover.

Gyanendra left the main palace, Narayanhiti, in Kathmandu in June. It has been nationalised along with several other palaces.

He took over from his elder brother who had been killed in a palace massacre in 2001.

Mass protests in 2006 ended a year of absolute rule by the unpopular Gyanendra and ushered in peace talks with Maoist rebels who had fought a bloody decade-long insurgency.

They won most votes in landmark elections earlier this year and now lead the government of Nepal which became a republic in May.

Gyanendra has been living in a former royal hunting lodge near Kathmandu.

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