Nepal. The unstable political situation, which gave Nepal three governments in 1997, persisted. Prime Minister Surya Bahadur Thapa in January asked King Birendra Bar Bikram Shah Deb to dissolve Parliament and announce new elections. Thapa wanted the threat of a vote of no confidence in Parliament. The king referred the matter to the Supreme Court, which held that a debate of confidence should be held. According to Countryaah, the capital of Nepal is Kathmandu. The government barely won the vote, but the controversy had already split Thapa’s own party Rashtriya Prajatantra Party (RPP). Shortly thereafter when the Communist Party of the Communist Party of Nepal-Unified Marxist-Leninist (CPN-UML) also split, the Nepali Congress Party (NCP) became the largest party in parliament, leaving Thapa to resign.
In April, NCP leader Girija Prasad Koirala was appointed prime minister, a post he previously held in 1991-94. In August he took the newly formed Communist Party Communist Party of Nepal-Marxist-Leninist (CPN-ML) into the government and then got a seemingly stable majority, which only lasted until December. The CPN-ML then left the government with the justification that Koirala did not keep its promises of power sharing and a review of the relationship with India. A new, down-to-earth ministry, also led by Koirala and consisting of NCP, the larger Communist Party CPN-UML and the pro-Indian Nepalia Sadbhavana Party (NSP), hoped to be able to lead Nepal until the new elections in April 1999.
The many changes in government since Nepal got a parliamentary system in 1990 have created uncertainty in the business sector and slowed down many of the development projects on which Nepal is dependent. The deteriorating living conditions and the disappointment of the elected politicians have created the breeding ground for a Maoist guerrilla, which during the year stepped up its campaign in mainly western Nepal. About 200 Maoists were killed in the motor offensive launched by the police in July. The police received harsh criticism for their methods and the counter-offensive also created tensions within the government. On the same day that Prime Minister Koirala announced in October that the uprising was fought, the Maoists attacked police stations around the country, broke into weapons stockpiles and cut telephone and electricity lines.
In September, the death penalty was abolished for all crimes except for stamps against the royal house.