Religious leaders gathered today in the chapel of a Buddhist monastery in the capital to commemorate the 30th World Peace Day. Representatives of mainstream and tribal religions gathered to hear a message of peace by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and other speakers urging an end to partisanship and religious strife. This took place against a background of increasing disunity among political parties and government leaders, and a looming strike is in protest against a visit by ousted King Gyanendra Shah. Kalsong Lama, a Buddhist monk and head of the monastery, spoke of the need for leaders and people in Nepal to end the divisive and hateful rhetoric that has led to religious and political infighting. “We light these lamps in the hope that they join millions of other candles and lamps worldwide for peace,” he said, referring to the ceremonial lighting of “butter lamps” during today’s event. Dr. Robert Kittel of the United Peace Federation said there was an urgent need for “increasing interfaith relationships and cross-fertilization of ideas by meeting more often,” adding that the principles of peace had to be discovered in a selfless relationship between individuals before they could be applied among billions of people worldwide. Former king Gyanendra Shah canceled a planned visit to Myagdi district, about 250 kilometers west of Kathmandu, after Communist Party members threatened to strike over what they said was an attempt to curry political favor and improve his public image. Meanwhile, the three main parties - Congress, Communist and Maoist - continue to jockey for position ahead of the November elections for a new Constituent Assembly, which was dissolved earlier this year after it failed to draft a new constitution.
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