An opposition party supporter with the slogan 'Loktantra Zindabad' painted on his head, courtesy of AP.com
(Kathmandu, Nepal) A popular uprising that has engulfed this Himalayan nation for the past 18 days has moved beyond its pro-democratic roots to become a movement against the Nepalese monarchy itself.
At least 23 people were injured today in clashes between protesters and police in different parts of the city, as security forces fired rubber bullets and teargas to disperse the crowds. King Gyanendra's offer to deliver power to an alliance of seven political parties has failed to quell protests against his rule.
Gyanendra seized control of the federal government last year, arguing that the political parties had failed to bring stability or end a 10-year communist insurgency.
Opposition leaders are reportedly debating whether they should reinstate parliament themselves, thereby setting up their own government to run parallel to that of King Gyanendra.
Among the protesters Sunday was S.M. Dixit, a 64 year-old physician who supports that idea.
"It is the right of the people, the democratic right of the people to form a parallel government," he said. "Because we do not accept this government. We never accepted this government. We have a right to form our own government and that government must come out whether the king wants it or not."
The opposition coalition called for street protests to continue throughout the week, including another massive rally Tuesday.
"We urge all the people, the old and the young alike, to come out of their homes, their villages, their neighbourhoods and get to the nearest point on the ring road for the mass rally," read a statement from the coordinating body.
Nepal, a nation of some 28 million people, is nestled in the Himalayas between China and India. The country is the only official Hindu state in the world. Eight of the ten highest mountain peaks - including Mount Everest - are located in Nepal.