Kathmandu, December 28
Provincial and federal lawmakers from the ruling Nepal Communist Party (NCP) representing Province 2 today submitted a memorandum to Minister of Foreign Affairs Pradeep Gyawali, urging him to probe the recent breach of diplomatic norms in the province. They, however, did not clearly state what diplomatic norms the provincial government or its office bearers violated.
Lawmakers said the chief minister of the province, ministers and local government chiefs and deputy chiefs were meeting foreign diplomats, visiting foreign countries, inviting foreigners and seeking foreign assistance in violation of diplomatic code of conduct. “Province 2 has become a playing field for foreigners,” the ruling party lawmakers stated in their memorandum.
They said the government should strictly enforce diplomatic code of conduct and make it mandatory for provincial government to meet foreigners only in the presence of a MoFA representative. They said the CM, provincial ministers and other chiefs and deputy chiefs of local governments should seek prior permission from MoFA before meeting foreign diplomats. They demanded that the federal government establish one unit of foreign ministry in all provinces.
Lawmakers also urged the minister to organise training for the chief minister of the province, provincial ministers and other office bearers on diplomatic code of conduct, protocols and Nepal’s foreign policy.
Province 2 Advocate General Dipendra Jha, however, said the ruling party lawmakers’ memorandum was prejudiced against Province 2. He said six other chief ministers had also met donors and foreign ambassadors, but the ruling party lawmakers were pointing finger only at Province 2. He said it would be impossible for chief ministers to talk to foreigners only in the presence of MoFA representatives. “How can chief ministers not meet a foreigner when s/he comes to meet them?” he wondered. Jha said if the federal government wanted to control provincial government’s contacts with foreigners then they could to do so by enacting a law from the Parliament.
“The constitution obligates provincial governments to seek permission from the federal government before receiving any assistance or loan from foreign governments. But why should the federal government control provincial governments from holding talks?” Jha wondered. He added that the Province 2 government violated no policy when special guests from India, including Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, visited the province.
He said MoFA representatives were present in the provincial capital during these visits from India.
“If MoFA wants to have its representatives in all provinces, so be it,” he added.
The federal government had declined permission to Province 2 Chief Minister Lalbabu Raut to visit USA, but it let chief ministers of Gandaki and Province 1 to visit China and the USA respectively.
Senior Advocate Dinesh Tripathi and foreign policy expert Dinesh Bhattarai said it would be impractical to ensure presence of MoFA representatives in all dialogues between chief ministers and foreign diplomats.
“But the provincial governments should inform MoFA of the contents of dialogue, particularly the issues related to national interests,” Bhattarai said.
Tripathi said in Nepal nobody was following the diplomatic code of conduct. “Our ministers and former prime ministers visit foreign countries, but they meet foreign leaders and officials without having MoFA representatives present in those talks,” Tripathi pointed out and added that rules should apply to all without any bias.
Prabhu Sah and Suman Raj Pyakurel were among the lawmakers who submitted the memorandum.
A version of this article appears in print on December 29, 2018 of The Himalayan Times.