Around a dozen embassies sans chiefs

Kathmandu, December 30

Several of Nepal’s crucial diplomatic missions in foreign countries have been left without ambassadors due to the government’s failure to make timely appointments.

As many as 11 Nepali embassies, including those in the UK, Germany, Brazil, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Oman, Bahrain, Sri Lanka, Japan and Bangladesh, are currently without ambassadors. Similarly, 10 more diplomatic outposts in China, South Korea, UAE, Israel, Myanmar, Pakistan, Australia, Denmark, Belgium and Russia will be without chiefs by March 2016.

Nepal has a total of 35 diplomatic outposts, including 30 embassies, two permanent missions and three consul missions.

“The appointment of the envoys is in high priority of the government,” Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli’s foreign relations expert Gopal Khanal told The Himalayan Times.

“The Prime Minister himself is keen to strengthen diplomatic missions through timely appointments of envoys.”

Embassy of Nepal in Egypt is without chief for the last three years, while the Embassy in UK is also without ambassador for over two years.

Khanal said the government was considering whether to nominate envoys in all the 21 vacant and other soon-to-be vacant positions at once or fill the vacant positions gradually in order of importance.

Foreign Secretary Shankar Das Bairagi has drawn the attention of the political and the government, including the Prime Minister, to the issue. He said keeping the positions of top diplomats in embassies vacant for long weakens our international image.

Nevertheless, appointments of envoys is easier said than done. The erstwhile Nepali Congress-led government could fill the ambassadorial positions only in nine diplomatic missions, mainly due to the differences over sharing of ambassadorial positions with coalition partner CPN-UML.

“The ambassadorial nominations has been too much politicised. As a result, we have lost contacts with many capitals where we once had a strong presence,” said a senior official at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.