Sat, 12 Mar 2005

From: Reuters

Nepal frees former PM

NEPAL: A former prime minister who was dismissed by Nepal's king and placed under house arrest was freed along with 18 other political activists on Friday, an official said.

Sher Bahadur Deuba's release came amid mounting pressure on Kathmandu from the international community to restore democracy and free political prisoners detained after King Gyanendra's surprise power grab on Feb. 1.

"Yes, we have lifted his (Deuba's) house arrest," an official told Reuters, adding that Deuba's aide Minendra Rijal and 17 others were also released from different detention centers.

However, he did not say when more activists would be freed from house arrest or detention.

Deuba's release follows that of eight political leaders on Wednesday, including Prakash Sharan Mahat, a junior foreign minister in Deuba's government.

Party officials said key leaders remained under house arrest and hundreds of others were in detention. Government officials have not given numbers of those in custody.

So far, nearly 50 people detained after the king suspended civil liberties have been freed. --Reuters