Behave or you’re history, Nepal’s finance minister warns king

KATHMANDU, May 26, 2006 (AFP) – Humbled King Gyanendra must “behave” or he has no future even as a ceremonial monarch, Finance Minister Dr Ram Sharan Mahat told AFP, revealing a royal spending spree before absolute rule was brought to an end. Gyanendra’s conduct had been “very good” in the month since he relinquished his 14-month grip on power and watched as parliament slashed his powers, wiped the word “royal” from the nation’s institutions and ended Nepal’s status as the world’s last Hindu kingdom.

Mahat has vowed to cut back on spiralling palace expenses that rose to more than 10 million dollars in the nine months before Gyanendra stepped aside following weeks of mass rebellion against his total rule.

That sum, when the king had total control over palace finances unregulated by politicians, was six times the total for all of 2001-02, according to central bank figures.

Premier Girija Prasad Koirala has met several times with Gyanendra since becoming head of an interim government but officials have given few details of their palace talks.

However Nepali Congress colleague Mahat said Gyanendra should still be seen as a “unifying symbol” and the party would back him in a ceremonial role — but the issue had not been broached by