Agréments sought for ambassadors before parliamentary hearing?

KATHMANDU: It has been revealed that the government decided to send names of ambassadorial nominees to the host nations for agréments before they were endorsed by the Parliamentary Hearing Special Committee.

Chief Secretary Somlal Subedi and Foreign Secretary Shankar Das Bairagi at the PHSC meeting on Monday accepted that the Cabinet made such a decision around a month ago.

The officials, however, did not divulge much details over the issue claiming it was a Cabinet decision made with an intent to fill long-vacant diplomatic positions.

Lawmakers of the panel nonetheless nagged at the officials claiming the government decision was completely wrong as it violated the constitutional provision.

The panel has urged the government to put implementation of the decision on hold till all the names were endorsed through the parliamentary hearing.

Speaking at the meeting, Nepali Congress Chief Whip and PHSC member Chinkaji Shrestha accused the government of trying to bypass the House panel and breach the Constitution.

Other members including NC's Chitra Lekha Yadav questioned why the government kept the positions vacant if it was to seek agréments on the names before the House endorsed them.

CPN-UML's Bhanubhakta Dhakal, however, expressed his soft corner for the government claiming the decision was meant to fill the vacancies as soon as possible.

Foreign Secretary Bairagi also defended that the government did not have any intention to disrespect the people's representatives, but just tried to complete the appointment process as soon as possible.

He claimed that other nations including the United States and Sri Lanka also have such a practice to receive the agréments at first and face hearing at the legislative body before taking on the job.

Meanwhile, the panel summoned four ambassadorial nominees - Sewa Lamsal Adhikari (Pakistan), Tara Prasad Pokharel (Brazil), Prakash Suvedi (United Nations Office in Vienna) and Durga Bahadur Subedi (United Kingdom)* - for the hearing on Tuesday.

Earlier, on Sunday, the House panel decided to summon the Secretary duo after it was reported that the government had already decided to seek consent of the host nations before they were accepted by the panel.

The Cabinet on April 19 had recommended 21 names for appointment as Nepali ambassadors to various nations.

One more person was recommended for the ambassadorial berth few weeks later.