Nepal's Parliament amends constitution empowering legislators to abolish king

Nepalese legislators have given themselves the power to abolish the Himalayan nation's 240-year-old monarchy if the king is seen to interfere in the political arena, officials said Thursday.

Parliament Speaker Subash Nemwang said a majority of members voted in favor of an amendment to the constitution around midnight Wednesday - handing them the ability to oust the monarchy if approved by two thirds of the 329-seat assembly.

"If the king is found to be creating any serious hurdles or planning a conspiracy to disrupt the special assembly election planned for November, the Parliament now has the power to remove him," Nemwang said.

There was no immediate plan to try and remove the king. The ruling parties in the government agreed to decide the fate of the king at a meeting of the special assembly to be elected later this year.

Nepal's King Gyanendra was forced to give up his authoritarian rule in April 2006 after weeks of pro-democracy protests. He had seized absolute power on February 2005.

Since April last year, he has been stripped of all his powers and command of the army. He remains powerless, still lives in the palace in Katmandu but rarely makes public appearances.

There have been allegations that the king and his supporters are planning to try disrupt the election but those charges have not been proved.

The amendment made late Wednesday also included some reforms of election laws.

Nepal's interim constitution was introduced in January. The election in November of a Constituent Assembly would draft a permanent constitution as well as decide on the future political system for Nepal and the fate of the monarchy.

Nepal's ruling parties agreed last month to postpone elections to November, five months after they were originally scheduled to take place.