In his half-hour televised address, Gyanendra repeated his allegiance to 'multi-party democracy' 11 times. Even as he talked, however, the leadership of the mainstream political parties were being rounded up and herded into detention, where they remain today. King Gyanendra lambasted the dozen years of what he asserted was democratic misrule, but was silent on the accelerated downturn in human security and the remarkable economic decline that has occurred since October 2002. This was a period when the royal palace ruled through appointed prime ministers.
The king is now the self-appointed chairman of the Council of Ministers, a cabinet made up of what The Economist described aptly as "cronies, chancers and nobodies". To assist him, Gyanendra dusted off two venerable septuagenarians who were his father's choice for similar positions four decades ago. The senior among the two vice-chairmen is a Jehovah's Witness who has taken the name of one of the apostles. Like Peter, he had been abroad as an evangelical missionary in Sri Lanka and India for a quarter century until he received the call last month.