EU: Nepal may face political collapse

European Union officials warned Thursday that Nepal is on the brink of political collapse and said a power grab by the king in February had only accelerated the country's decline.

Tom Phillips, the director for South Asia at the British Foreign Office, made the comments after meeting with lawmakers and diplomats in the capital, Katmandu.

"We want to say frankly that we are greatly concerned that unless all involved move quickly to address the country's problems effectively, there is a strong risk of political collapse in Nepal," said Phillips who, as a representative of the EU presidency, led the delegation in its three-day trip to assess the political situation in Nepal. King Gyanendra seized absolute power on Feb. 1, claiming the move was necessary to halt official corruption and bring an end to a nine-year Maoist insurgency in the Himalayan nation.

But since the king appointed his own government, political turmoil has intensified in Nepal with near daily demonstrations against his rule and an increase in communist rebel violence. The king has come under repeated criticism from foreign governments urging him to hasten the kingdom's return to democracy, reports the AP. I.L.

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