NC objects to statements by NCP, govt on Venezuela

Kathmandu, February 3

Main opposition Nepali Congress has reacted for the first time to the statements issued by the government and Nepal Communist Party (NCP) Co-chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal on Venezuela crisis, terming them ‘insensitive, immature and against national interest’.

Issuing a statement after a meeting of the parliamentary party chaired by NC President Sher Bahadur Deuba today, the NC said the United States, Nepal’s dependable and old friend for more than 65 years, had been providing significant assistance to Nepal in areas of social and physical infrastructure development.

Citing the US assistance of $500 million to Nepal under the Millennium Challenge Corporation compact programme for infrastructure development, the NC added that positive role of the US in Nepal’s economic development, apart from financial and diplomatic assistance, would be important in the days to come.

“Against this backdrop, statements issued by the NCP chairman and the government on political developments in Venezuela, with who Nepal does not have any significant relation, are not only immature, but also against Nepal’s national interest,” read the NC statement.

The NC statement comes days after Dahal’s statement, which was followed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ statement.

In a statement undersigned by Dahal on January 25, the NCP denounced ‘intervention in internal affairs’ of Venezuela by the US and its allies, terming it ‘an unacceptable intrusion in internal affairs and an attempt of the imperialist coup’.

In the statement, the NCP stated, “The self declaration of Juan Guaido as the acting president of Venezuela and immediate recognition of him by the US and other regional states, clearly shows the grand design going on against the legitimately elected President of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, President Nicolas Maduro and the Venezuelan people.”

Following Dahal’s statement, US officials in Washington DC summoned Nepal’s Ambassador to the US Arjun Karki, seeking clarification on whether Dahal’s statement was in concurrence with the government’s official position. Also, the US Embassy in Kathmandu requested the government to make its position clear.

Under pressure, the MoFA on January 29 issued a statement making it clear its position on Venezuela which observers termed ‘carefully-worded’ and ‘tacitly consistent’ with the one issued by Dahal.

The US government adopted critical approach to both statements from Dahal and the Nepal government, resulting in the Nepal-US bilateral relations hitting its lowest ebb.

US Ambassador to Nepal Randy Berry skipped the government’s briefing to foreign diplomats based in Kathmandu on Friday. The US government is also apparently ‘not sure’ what to convey to American investors to invite them to the ‘most-premature’ International Investment Summit planned in Kathmandu from March 29 to 30, amid need for ‘serious regulatory and legal reforms’.

The US, along with other members of the international community, had on January 24 urged the government to make public its plans to take the transitional justice process forward in 2019. The statement was undersigned by the embassies of Australia, Germany, Finland, France, Norway, Switzerland, the UK and the US, delegation of the European Union and the UN in Nepal.

In his briefing to the diplomatic community in Kathmandu on Friday, Minister of Foreign Affairs Pradeep Kumar Gyawali said the ‘internal matter’ of transitional justice would be resolved with Nepal’s commitment and efforts.