Gyanendra (gyänĕnˈdrə) [key], 1947–, last king of Nepal (2001–8). Second son of King Mahendra (r. 1955–72) and brother of King Birendra (r. 1972–2001), Gyanendra was a businessman whose assets included a hotel, tea estate, and cigarette factory and was also an adviser to King Birendra. Gyanendra became king in June, 2001, when Birendra and other royal family members were murdered by Crown Prince Dipendra, who was apparently distraught over royal disapproval of his choice of a wife. Under Gyanendra, Nepal's long-simmering Maoist insurgency worsened, and conflicts between the monarchy and Nepal's fractious politicians complicated the situation. In 2005 he assumed complete executive powers, arrested many politicians, dissidents, and others, and declared a state of emergency. The royal coup led to increasingly confrontational protests, and the king ended absolute rule in 2006. The reinstated parliament quickly reduced the king to a figurehead and subsequently signed a peace accord with the rebels. In 2008 the monarchy was abolished by the constituent assembly elected to write a new constitution.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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