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Pressure mounts on govt to pick envoys

KATHMANDU, APR 14 - The failure of successive governments to make key ambassadorial appointments has not only angered senior Foreign Ministry officials eligible for the assignments but also eroded Nepal’s image internationally.

Two key ambassadorial appointments, known as important bilateral and multilateral forums—New Delhi and New York—have been vacant since January 2011 and August 2012 respectively. In January 2011, the then government, acting upon the directions of the Committee on International Relation and Human Rights of the then Legislature Parliament, recalled Nepal’s Ambassador to India Rukma Samsher Rana for holding an important position in Dabur Nepal, a subsidiary of an Indian multinational company.

Likewise, another plum position in New York has been vacant since Gyan Chandra Acharya, former Permanent Representative and Ambassador to the United Nations, was appointed as Under-Secretary-General and High Representative for Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States.

Besides these two high-profile postings, Nepal has not had residential ambassadors in Egypt, Malaysia, and Thailand for long. Likewise, two other positions—Germany and Sri Lanka—are going to be vacant in six months. Nepal will also need to appoint a Saarc Secretary General during the upcoming Saarc inter-session, also considered a mini-summit.

After almost a month in government, the incumbent Cabinet has failed to initiate the appointments of  ambassadors to these stations, irking senior Foreign Ministry officials. All nine joint secretaries at the Foreign Ministry are planning to press Foreign Minister Madhav Ghimire on Monday to appoint ambassadors as soon as possible. If the minister fails to address our grievances, we will knock on the door of Chairman of the Interim Election Government Khil Raj Regmi, they warned.

Among these positions, the Foreign Ministry officials have claimed at least four seats, including Secretary General of Saarc and Nepal’s Permanent Representative to the UN. “We are claiming Saarc, New York and two other missions. The political parties can keep the other positions, including India,” said another foreign ministry official.

Tradition dictates a minimum fifty percent reservation for career diplomats in the total vacant positions. In the past, either the serving foreign secretary or senior foreign ministry officials would receive the postings in New York and Saarc. “If the government plans to appoint anyone other than career diplomats in New York and Saarc, we will oppose that decision,” said an official.

Foreign Secretary Durga Bhattarai is said to be a natural candidate for New York and among the nine joint secretaries, Niranjan Man Singh Basnyet, Arjun Bhadur Thapa, Dipak Dhital, Khaganath Adhikari and Ambika Luitel are in the fray.

It is not good to hold up these postings for long as the country’s image will degenerate day-by-day, said another joint secretary. As the government cleared the deck to appoint ambassadors through the removal of constitutional difficulties, it is high time they did so, he said.

Foreign Minister Ghimire was unavailable for comment despite repeated attempts.

No one seems worried here about the ambassadorial appointments, said Prof Lok Raj Baral, the former Nepali Ambassador to India. “Every party takes it as a personal agenda which is wrong. Parties need yes menn rather than qualified ones,” he added, expressing discontent over government’s failure to appoint ambassador to India which is one of the prominent and crucially important for Nepal’s diplomacy.  

Posted on: 2013-04-15 08:20

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