Under the assumption (and this is a MAJOR assumption) that all parties to Nepal's conflict are RATIONAL, self-preserving actors, below is an argument on how "the people" are being taken for a ride.
Consider this: Is it in King Gyanendra's best interest to accelerate the demolition of the institution of monarchy or to ensure its preservation? Common sense would indicate that the Palace and its supporters would want the tradition of monarchy to continue; at a minimum, in a ceremonial capacity, and preferably, with full legitimization (courtesy of the constituent assembly elections). This would be the best case scenario for the Palace.
Then one must ask, why the suicidal address on Democracy Day from Gyanendra? Why would the Palace (of all groups), provide an excuse for the Maoists to divert attention away from the one issue that has single-handedly derailed the Maoists' agenda - the Madhesi uprising?
It would appear that the most controversial components of the King's message were as follows: One, his claim of "compulsion" for the February-1 takeover and two, the timing of his delivery. As for the rest of it, the guy's taking moral responsibility for everything that happened during his 15 month side-show. With the institution of monarchy in virtual "suspension," (so when Gyanendra does speak, it's as good as any private individual speaking), what's unconstitutional about admitting fault?
Nepalis need to make up their minds - are we going to continue bestowing regal privilege on Gyanendra or are we going to start treating him like one of the crowd? The call for going republic would fall in line with the latter approach. So is it Gyanendra's bad for taking moral responsibility or is it the Nepali media's bad for giving what Gyanendra says, undue importance (or more to the point, is it the politicians' fault for preying on populist fervour)?
This is ADMISSION of guilt People!! Isn't this what the Rayamajhi Commission wanted to establish when they asked to "grill" Gyanendra? Well, they didn't have to. Gyanendra came out and did it all on his own. So what's the fuss about? Prosecute him, put him on trial, use his admission to build a case against him. But for god's sake, do it through polls, through due process, do it legitimately and stop projecting this bogeyman caricature that gives Gyanendra an elevated status!!
As for the "compulsion," component of Gyanendra's delivery, let's consider similar arguments that have been made to justify other experiments that have gone terribly awry. For example, the mainstream parties ignored the Maoists' demand, so they felt "compelled" to take up arms and kill 13 thousand Nepalis.
As another example, certain Civil Society elements feel "compelled" to keep embarrassing Gyanendra, to pretend that they are keeping the 7 parties in check, and to continue turning a blind eye to all but the most blatant abuses by the Maoists.
These elements continue to use Gyanendra as a populist lever to elevate their own agendas. Why? It's simple, it's because they can, and because they feel "compelled" to protect themselves, their wives and their children. They've nothing to fear from a King whose worst offence it was to place them in preventive detention (the sole cause behind their elevated statues today).
But with less than 60% of the Maoists' arms under lock and key, these individuals have plenty to fear from "accidental" discharges such as the one in Lahan. There is an established precedent of consequences for speaking against the Maoists - it's called a bullet with the "offender's" name on it. Or in more recent times, it's called kidnapping (ask the Nepali Congress's MP, Suresh Malla; he'll tell you all about it).
As for the timing aspect of Gyanendra's delivery, when it comes to admitting fault, there's no such thing as a "good" time. Better late than never is what most rational people would say.
How Gyanendra's address has the potential to derail the constituent assembly elections defies rational thought. His admission of guilt may gain favour with the general Nepali population (which traditionally demonstrates memory-capacity that spans no longer than 6 months at any given time). But this is very different from attempts at sabotaging the constituent assembly elections - an allegation Maoists and their sympathizers continue to make. Potential sabotage against the Maoists' end game? Perhaps. But sabotage against the holding of constituent assembly elections? Unlikely.
The reality is that the Maoists are still reeling from the Madhesi revolt. This revolt has clearly distinguished itself as a legitimate movement, untarnished by the history of ethnic exploitation and violence that lies at the core of the Maoist movement. With this reality comes the certainty of humiliating results at the constituent assembly elections for the Maoists - with the UN on the ground and the whole world watching, the elections could prove to be a devastating blow to the Maoists' ego. Then what?
This mode of thought is precisely what is driving the Maoists' demand for a republic, immediately. They need something significant under their belt (before elections), to substantiate 12 years of sorrow, misery, loss of life and a violent approach that all things being equal, simply cannot be justified.
The only hope of gaining legitimacy in this area (for the Maoists), is if they can remove the monarchy from Nepal. Heading into CA elections under a republican environment would certainly be favourable to the Maoists; even Army Generals who consider the mainstream parties are far greater degenerates than the Maoists, are likely to help tilt the election outcome in the Maoists' favour. After all, it was the parties who sent the Army on a wild goose chase after the Maoists and it was the mainstream parties that hung the Army out to dry - not the Maoists.
Let's face it, King Gyanendra may have millions locked away in some account overseas, but neither he, nor his family will enjoy close to an ounce of the comfort or respect that Nepal has traditionally afforded its Royal Family. Why on earth would Gyanendra want to jeopardize the only chance of survival his lineage has - the constituent assembly elections?
It's high time to wake up and smell the coffee. In whose real interest (given the parameters in Nepal, today), is it to hold the Constituent Assembly elections? The King, for whom the only chance of survival is elections, or the Maoists, for whom elections in June would be political suicide?
Urgent focus is required to ensure that Nepal's transition (whether it be to a republic or a federal structure with a ceremonial monarchy) is accomplished through elections, not parliamentary or 7 party or 8 pseudo-party decrees. This is ESSENTIAL for sustainable peace, security, law and order to take footing in Nepal.