Nepal’s deposed king Gyanendra has for the first time acquired a passport in his name at the age of 64, more than a year after he became a commoner, a Foreign Ministry official said.

The government issued the passport to Gyanendra Shah, who vacated the royal palace in June 2008, two weeks after the 601-member Constituent Assembly abolished the monarchy.

“We issue diplomatic passports to all former heads of state and heads of government. So it was normal to issue the former king with a diplomatic passport,” said a Foreign Ministry’s official.

According to sources, the ministry “received a formal request” recently from the former monarch for the diplomatic document.

Earlier, Mr. Gyanendra had no use for the documents during his official visits. His only travel after leaving the royal palace last June was to travel on a personal visit to India, which has an open border with Nepal. According his close aides, Mr. Gyanendra is expected to visit India probably next month.

Mass protests against Mr. Gyanendra that began in April 2006 finally culminated in the abolition of the monarchy soon after the CPN-Maoist emerged as the largest party in the constitutional assembly polls last year. Many ordinary Nepalese were delighted to see the back of the dour, unpopular king as well as his son Paras.

Mr. Gyanendra has been at the centre of many conspiracy theories, including the 2001 palace massacre that killed his popular older brother Birendra along with most of the royal family by the then crown prince Dipendra, who was allegedly fuelled by a cocktail of drugs and alcohol.

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