Govt reappoints Upadhyay as envoy to India

Kathmandu, September 1

Former ambassador to India Deep Kumar Upadhyay, who the erstwhile KP-Sharma Oli-led government had recalled in May, was again named Nepal’s envoy to the southern neighbour today.

Former chief secretary Leela Mani Paudyal, who has served as consul general to Lhasa, has been nominated as Nepal’s new ambassador to China.

A Cabinet meeting held today recommended Upadhyay and Paudyal’s names as ambassadors to India and China, respectively, just prior to the forthcoming high-level visits to and from the two neighbours.

Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal is leaving for India on a four-day visit on September 15, while heads of state of Nepal and India are also scheduled to visit each other later this year. Besides Chinese President Xi Jinping is also likely to visit Nepal in mid-October.

Foreign Minister Prakash Sharan Mahat told The Himalayan Times that it was not appropriate to keep vacant diplomatic missions even in normal situations and the prospective high-level visits demanded urgency in appointing envoys to India and China. Nepal’s two vital diplomatic outposts — New Delhi and Beijing — had been headless since early May when Upadhyay was recalled and Ambassador to China Mahesh Maskey’s over four-year’s tenure had come to an end.

Upadhyay, a Nepali Congress leader, was earlier appointed ambassador to India by the Sushil Koirala-led government in April 2015. He was recalled by the Oli-led government on May 6 on the allegation of being involved in ‘anti-national activities’. A former foreign secretary told this daily that it was the first time in the country’s diplomatic history that a recalled envoy was ‘reinstated’ to his duty station.

Besides India and China, ambassadorial posts in over a dozen countries are lying vacant. Earlier, the Oli-led government had recommended 22 envoys to several countries. However, the incumbent government withdrew 14 of those names, as they were appointed on the basis of their political affiliation. Some ambassadorial nominees have moved the Supreme Court against the new government’s decision, which has been stayed by the apex court until a final judgment. Foreign Minister Mahat said the vacant ambassadorial posts would be filled after the final hearing on the sub-judice case.

The Oli-led government had proposed former foreign minister and a UML leader, Mahendra Bahadur Pandey, as ambassador to China. Panday was among the nominees whose names were withdrawn by the new government. He, however, has not moved the SC seeking annulment of the decision withdrawing his name as envoy to China. Meanwhile, the Cabinet today appointed former ambassador to Malaysia Rishi Raj Adhikari as prime minister’s foreign affairs adviser and former executive director of Nepal Rastra Bank Sri Ram Paudel as prime minister’s economic affairs adviser.