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Nepal frees political prisoners

From Journalist Akhilesh Upadhyay in Kathmandu

King Gyanendra, seated, takes part in a ceremony at the start of the year.
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Nepal's King Gyanendra dissolves the government and takes absolute power.

KATHMANDU, Nepal (CNN) -- Former Nepal prime minister Sher Bahadur Deuba was freed Friday, 40 days after King Gyanendra assumed power, dismissing Deuba's government and placing a number of political party leaders in house arrest.

India and others in the international community had asked King Gyanendra to restore democracy and release the political party leaders.

India, Nepal's neighbor and major arms supplier, told Nepal's Foreign Minister Rameshnath Pandey early this week that keep military aid to Nepal suspended unless political freedoms are restored.

Nepal, battling a nine-year-old Maoist insurgency, relies heavily on India, Britain and the United States for military hardware and training in its counter-insurgency.

King Gyanendra has said that the suspension of fundamental rights and press censorship were temporary measures necessary to stop the country's downward spiral into anarchy.

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