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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

King Dismisses Entire Nepalese Government

KATMANDU, Nepal -- King Gyanendra dismissed Nepal's government on Tuesday and declared a state of emergency, cutting off his Himalayan nation from the rest of the world as telephone and Internet lines were snapped, flights diverted and civil liberties severely curtailed.

Tuesday's move was the second time in three years that the king has taken control of the tiny South Asian constitutional monarchy, a throwback to the era of absolute power enjoyed by Nepal's monarchs before King Birendra, Gyanendra's elder brother, introduced democracy in 1990.

King Gyanendra denied his takeover was a coup, although soldiers surrounded the houses of Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba and other government leaders.

The king also suspended several provisions of the constitution, including the freedoms of press, speech and expression, the freedom to assemble peacefully, the right to privacy and the right against preventive detention, according to a statement from the Narayanhiti Palace.

"We will oppose this step," Deuba, who was not allowed to leave his home, told reporters. "The move directly violates the constitution and is against democracy."

Nepali Congress, the country's largest party, said the king had "pushed the country toward further complications" and called for a joint protest.

The king was also criticized by India, Nepal's southern neighbor and close ally.

"These developments constitute a serious setback to the cause of democracy in Nepal and cannot but be a cause of grave concern to India," the Indian Foreign Ministry said in a statement. "The safety and welfare of the political leaders must be ensured and political parties must be allowed to exercise all the rights enjoyed by them under the constitution."

India said the king's move had violated the Nepalese constitution, which enshrines a multiparty democracy alongside a constitutional monarchy.

Armored military vehicles with mounted machine guns were patrolling the streets of Katmandu, Nepal's capital, and phone lines in the city had been cut.

Many flights into Katmandu were canceled amid the uncertainty or were turned back by Nepalese authorities, although the airport remained open.

Long lines quickly formed at grocery stores and gas stations, as worried residents stocked up on supplies.

"We are so confused. We don't know what is going on or what will happen," said Narayan Thapa, a government worker in Katmandu. "I am worried I can't reach my family on the phone."

In an announcement on state-run television, the king accused the government of failing to conduct parliamentary elections and being unable to restore peace in the country, which is beset by rebel violence.