God kings are secure in their temples so long as the people continue to love them. If not, their right to rule is no longer secure. King Gyanendra of Nepal, the world's last Hindu royal ruler, long ago lost the reverent affection of his people. Yesterday, the country's new assembly met to abolish the monarchy, to put an end to the dynasty that has ruled the country for 240 years. This is the first step in the transition to a secular republic. Matters did not have to end that way. But it became inevitable once the king seized absolute power. That played into the hands of Maoist insurgents who eventually emerged strongest from elections for the assembly. The future of another Himalayan monarchy, meanwhile, looks secure. In Bhutan, thankfully, the people were given democracy without having to fight for it. The fourth king of a Buddhist dynasty that has exercised absolute power over the tiny, secluded kingdom for 100 years launched political reforms last year and then stepped down in favour of his son. Two months ago, elections marked the transition to democracy with a constitutional monarchy. Similar reforms in 1990 offered the promise of a better life for Nepal's impoverished people. But this was eroded after the insurgency began in 1996. The shooting dead in 2001 of most of the royal family by the crown prince, who then allegedly killed himself, brought the late King Birendra's younger brother, Gyanendra, to the throne. The nation cried out for healing and reconciliation, such as a peace process that included the Maoists. Instead it got a grab for absolute power which Gyanendra claimed he needed to combat the insurgency. He ignored good advice, such as the suggestion he should show he cared about his people by turning over some of his palaces for use as hospitals or schools - fatal errors of judgment. For the sake of the people, their newly elected representatives must exercise sound judgment when choosing a constitutional model for the new republic. True democracy offers the best hope of developing the country's economic potential and improving living standards. But it must be safeguarded by effective checks and balances against the emergence of another dictatorship.