CPN-MC likely to repeat earlier picks; Nepali Congress yet to decide on names

Kathmandu, January 30

Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal is all set to recommend the same names from the CPN-Maoist Centre party quota for ambassadorial berths who were earlier picked for the coveted job during the KP Sharma Oli-led government.

The Oli-led government, where CPN-MC was a junior coalition partner, had recommended four envoys from the CPN-MC quota, in April 2016. They included CPN-MC central committee member and indigenous leader Lucky Sherpa; Dalit leader Padam Sundas; Professor of Tribhuvan University Mahendra Singh; and chief editor of The Rising Nepal Yubanath Lamsal.

Sherpa was recommended to serve as ambassador to Australia, Sundas for Bahrain, Prof Singh for Qatar and Lamsal for Denmark.

However, the names of all fours candidates, along with additional 10 picks from the UML and other fringe parties, were withdrawn after the UCPN-Maoist switched its alliance with CPN-UML; and joined hands with Nepali Congress  to form a new coalition government under its own leadership in August last year. “Now, the understanding is there that those who were picked for ambassadorial jobs by the erstwhile government from the CPN-MC quota will be re-recommended to the same countries,” the prime minister’s foreign relations adviser Rishiraj Adhikari told The Himalayan Times.

An aide of Prime Minister Dahal, however, said that among those only Sherpa, Sundas and Lamsal would be nominated as envoys, while Singh wouldn’t be recommended for ambassadorial assignment as he already had  a political appointment in Nepal.

In the place of Singh, who was recommended as envoy to Qatar, a Muslim candidate is being pursued within the CPN-MC, according to the PM’s press adviser Govinda Acharya.

Currently, Nepali embassies in Australia, Japan, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Oman, Bahrain, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Israel and Denmark are headless. Ambassadorial posts of some of these missions have been vacant for months and even years.

It is learnt that the ruling NC and CPN-Maoist Centre have decided appoint six and four envoys from their quota, respectively; and the remaining two envoys wwould be allotted to other coalition partners.

Former envoys, professors and party leaders are among those vying for the job from Nepali Congress. “We are yet to decide whom to recommend which country,” an aide quoted Foreign Minister Prakash Sharan Mahat as saying. “What we are trying to do is to name the envoys before the announcement of election date.”

Once the date for  local elections is announced, the EC will issue election codes, which bar the government from making any political appointment or transfer.