Govt set to recall envoys other than ones appointed under Maoist quota

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KATHMANDU, Aug 10: The government is preparing to recall by early September at least 10 of the 14 ambassadors appointed under the coalition government of the Nepali Congress (NC) and Maoist Center in February 2017.

Sources familiar with the development said preparations are underway to recall the envoys appointed under the quotas of then ruling parties Nepali Congress (NC), Rastriya Prajatantra Party-Nepal and Madhesi People’s Rights Forum (Democratic). The last had merged with the NC ahead of the parliamentary elections held earlier this year.

However, ambassadors appointed under the quota of the Maoist Center will not be affected.

Foreign Minister Pradeep Gyawali said discussions are still underway within the party on whether to recall the ambassadors or not. “We have not taken any decision yet on this issue. Discussions are still ongoing,” he told Republica.

A cabinet meeting held on February 20, 2017 had recommended 14 ambassadors on the basis of quotas among the ruling parties — NC, Maoist Center, RPP-N and MPRF (D). While five ambassadors were nominated from the NC, the Maoist Center had four names in the list. Similarly, RPP-N recommended three names and MPRF (D) one for the ambassadorial positions.

Those recommended by NC include Arjun Jung Bahadur Singh (for South Korea), Bhim Udas (Myanmar), Dr Choplal Bhusal (Bangladesh), Prof Bishwambher Pyakuryal (Sri Lanka), and Ramesh Prasad Koirala (Qatar). Similarly, Pratibha Rana (Japan), Niranjan Thapa (Israel) and Bharat Rayamajhi (Spain) were appointed from RPP-N and Sharmila Parajuli (Oman) from the Bijaya Kumar Gachchhadar-led MPRF (D).

Officials said although preparations are underway to recall the ambassadors appointed under the NC, RPP-N and MPRF (D) quotas once the BIMSTEC summit is out of the way, the government will likely not recall Yuba Nath Lamsal (Denmark), Lucky Sherpa (Australia), Padam Sundas (Bahrain) and Mahendra Bahadur Singh (Saudi Arabia).

These were appointed under the Maoist Center quota.

Senior leaders of the ruling Nepal Communist Party (NCP) said there is concern within the party that ambassadors appointed under the quotas of opposition parties are spreading anti-government views in their host countries. “Ambassadors appointed under the quota of opposition parties will be recalled. A decision to this effect is likely after the conclusion of the fourth BIMSTEC summit scheduled for August 30-31 in Kathmandu. Some of the ambassadors to be recalled represent Nepal in BIMSTEC member states,” said a party leader asking not to be named. The sub-regional body has India, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Nepal, Myanmar, Sri Lanka and Thailand as member states.

The then KP Oli government in April, 2016 nominated 21 ambassadors to various countries from RPP-N, the erstwhile CPN-UML and CPN (Maoist Center), along with eight career diplomats.

But when the Oli government collapsed after the Maoist Center chose to side with the NC, the envoys recommended under the UML quota were withdrawn.

The Oli government in 2016 had recommended former foreign minister Mahendra Bahadur Pandey as ambassador to China, former minister for general administration Yubaraj Karki to South Korea, Shiva Maya Tumbahamphe to Israel, Khadga KC to Japan, Narad Bhardwaj to Sri Lanka and Ali Akhtar Mikrani to Saudi Arabia, under UML’s quota.

Ruling party leaders have maintained that ambassadors need to have the trust of the prime minister. A cabinet meeting last month made it mandatory for envoys to take their oath of office and secretary from the prime minister before taking up their diplomatic assignments.

Party insiders said there is pressure within the ruling Nepal Communist Party (NCP) to recall without further delay ambassadors loyal to the opposition parties.

Currently, the ambassadorial positions at Nepal’s UN Permanent Mission in New York and in Malaysia, India and the United Arab Emirates are lying vacant. Although the present Oli government earlier nominated Neel Kantha Uprety as ambassador to India and Udaya Raj Pandey to Malaysia, the decision was annulled amid controversy over the appropriateness of nominating former election commission chief Uprety.

As six ambassadorial positions held by career diplomats – Khaganath Adhikari (Thailand), Deepak Dhital (Switzerland), Ambika Devi Luitel (France), Kali Prasad Pokhrel (Canada), Yagya Bahadur Hamal (Kuwait) and Amrit Bahadur Rai (South Africa) – are to fall vacant in less than six months, the government is preparing to make nominations to all these countries together. The process of appointing a new envoy normally starts six months before the post falls vacant.

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