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Nepal’s diplomacy hit as new power play stalls envoy picks

Ram Kumar DC

Ram Kumar DC

 |  Kathmandu

Nepali Ambassador to America, Shridhar Khatri, has returned home after the previous ruling alliance including CPN (UML) recalled the ambassadors from 11 countries.

However, Dr. Shankar Prasad Sharma, the ambassador to southern neighbor India, is still carrying out his duties. The government on June 6 had recalled ambassadors from 11 countries including India, UK and USA. According to the existing rules, the ambassador recalled by the government has to return within one month and this deadline expired last Saturday.

The Prachanda-led government on June 21 recommended ambassadors to eight countries. The preparations were underway to recommend other ambassadors to the remaining three countries.

However, this ambassadorial recommendation hit a snag after the largest parties – Nepali Congress and UML broke the previous alliance to form a national consensus government.

NC and UML leaders are sharply divided over ambassadorial picks
While UML has been saying that those who are already recommended cannot be returned, the NC is digging its heels, calling for the reconsideration of the decision.

Both the parties have a common understanding that those who were recalled on June 21 won’t be given continuity due to legal hurdles since it has already entered the implementation phase. However, the two parties hold contradictory views on the remaining issues.

UML wants to give continuity to the same candidates recommended on its quota. Former Foreign Minister and Deputy General Secretary Pradeep Gyawali has stated that the countries to which they were recommended can be changed but the candidates will remain unchanged.

“With the new alliance, the countries can be reconsidered,” said Gyawali, “But those who were recommended on the UML quota will not change.”

Ambassadors had been recommended to five countries on the UML quota. Former Secretary Chandra Ghimire was recommended as an ambassador to America, Former Chief Secretary Lokdarshan Regmi to India, Sumnima Tuladhar to Denmark, Netra Prasad Timsina to Malaysia and Sushil Pyakurel had been recommended for South Korea. However, Pyakurel refused to accept the offer.

Similarly, Bijan Panta had been recommended as the ambassador to UK on the Maoist Center quota. Likewise, Abu Sufyan Khan Musalman had been recommended as the ambassador to Saudi Arabia and Pushpa Raj Rajkarnikar to Spain on the quota of Janata Samajbadi Party led by Ahok Rai.

Ambassadors who were recalled from major countries including America, UK and India had been recommended on NC quota. NC does not want to leave ambassadors recommended to strategically important countries.

Former Foreign Minister and NC leader, NP Saud, has repeatedly urged the government to reconsider its ambassadorial recommendations for countries that haven't yet granted agreement.

 “The upcoming government should review the recommended ambassadors who have not received consent from the receiving countries,” said Saud.

How will UML convince NC?
UML is making preparations to lead the next government by taking NC into confidence. It is UML’s responsibility to keep NC happy when it comes to power-sharing deals. “The process of ambassadorial appointment will move ahead in a new way by striking a power-sharing deal,” said Gyawali.

UML seems ready to change the countries of some ambassadors recommended on its quota. Similarly, UML also can recall those ambassadors recommended on the Maoist Center and Unified Socialist quota and recommend new ambassadors on the NC quota.

The government to be formed by UML can also recall Ambassador to China, Bishnu Pukar Shrestha, and Ambassador to UK Bijan Panta recommended on the Maoist Center quota and Milan Tuladhar to Russia and Kailash Pokharel to Australia recommended on the Unified Socialist quota. Ambassadors can be recommended to these countries on the NC quota.

What are recalled ambassadors doing?
Nepali Ambassador to America Shridhar Khatri has returned to Nepal. Khatri took leave from the Embassy of Nepal in America on June 26. Similarly, Nepali Ambassador to India, Shankar Prasad Sharma, was carrying out his duties until last Saturday.

He had welcomed Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal ‘Prachanda’ during his India visit that took place after the government decided to recall ambassadors from 11 countries. He also held meetings with Health Minister of India JP Nadda and Ajit Doval, newly reappointed National Security Advisor to Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Similarly, Ambassador to UK Gyanchandra Acharya, Jyoti Pyakurel (South Africa) and Dilli Raj Paudel to Malaysia have not retuned to Nepal.

Nawaraj Subedi, ambassador to Saudi Arabia, Sharmila Parajuli Dhakal (Spain), Naresh Bikram Dhakal (Qatar), Ram Suraj Raya ((Denmark) and Kanta Rijal (Israel) are yet to return.


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