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Gurkhas score TV ambush victory in Britain

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London – Never underestimate the power of television – or celebrity.

Campaigners fighting for thousands of Nepalese Gurkha soldiers who served in Britain's military to be given the right to live in Britain appear to have won a major victory in their struggle with the British government (for our previous coverage of the struggle, click here).

The dust is only now settling after a week of political theater in which a glamorous British actress spearheading the campaign used an impromptu live television press conference with an immigration minister to extract assurances from him that left Gurkha campaigners quietly confident of achieving their goals.

Current rules would give residency rights only to some 4,300 former Gurkha soldiers, which falls well short of demands that such rights they be granted to all 36,000 Nepalese veterans who served with the British army before 1997 – the year when the Gurkha's headquarters moved from Hong Kong to Britain.

After a rejection by British parliamentarians last week of a government proposal to allow an additional limited number to settle here, Prime Minister Gordon Brown was forced personally to take charge of the row and come up with new plans.

British actress Joanna Lumley, whose father commanded Gurkhas in World War II, said after meeting with Mr. Brown on Wednesday that she believed she could trust him, and that the Gurkhas were counting on him to help them.

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