Oli envoy’s appointments could erode country’s credibility, experts warn

The KP Sharma Oli administration last week made what has been the country’s biggest ambassadorial recommendation in the past two and a half years, appointing envoys to 11 countries.

The recommended names have been sent to the Parliamentary Secretariat for nomination hearings, but experts are already sounding the alarm that the list of candidates poorly reflects the Oli administration.

Nine out of eleven candidates were recommended under the political quota, and diplomacy experts say their appointment could undermine Nepal’s credibility on the international stage.

According to sources, Nirmal Raj Kafle and Jeevan Prakash Shrestha, both co-secretaries at the Foreign Ministry, are the only career diplomats on Oli’s list of candidate ambassadors. Kafle was nominated for the role of Ambassador to Austria and Shrestha to Egypt.

The other nine candidates were chosen by President Bidya Devi Bhandari, Prime Minister Oli, Foreign Minister Pradeep Gyawali and some influential leaders of the ruling party, according to sources.

The Post tried on several occasions to contact Foreign Minister Gyawali for comment on government ambassadorial appointments, but he did not pick up his phone.

Foreign affairs experts say the Oli government has flouted the criteria for appointing ambassadors since the rule prescribes a 50-50 split between career diplomats and political appointments.

The criteria also relate to the qualifications of candidate ambassadors, such as their academic and professional background, proficiency in several languages ​​and knowledge of the foreign policies specific to each country.

“But these recommendations do not meet the criteria set by the Foreign Ministry three years ago,” said a co-secretary of the ministry on condition of anonymity. “The elected politicians this time have little knowledge of diplomacy. Most of them do not even know the state of Nepal’s bilateral relations with the countries for which they have been appointed. [to be stationed in]. “

Madan Kumar Bhattarai, former foreign minister, said a newly appointed ambassador should have the full confidence of his country’s people, government and the Diaspora.

“We need effective and proactive ambassadors. But the government chooses people who are not suited for the job, ”Bhattarai told the Post. “I don’t know how the government will justify their appointments.”

Among the political nominations, Krishna Chandra Sharma, who was nominated for South Korea, is a former head of the Central English Department at Tribhuvan University; Sumnima Tuladhar, nominated for Australia, is a child rights activist; and Yubraj Karki, nominated for Bahrain, is a former minister of general administration and former member of the foreign affairs department of the ruling party CPN-UML.

Likewise, Ramesh Chandra Poudel, who was appointed for Sri Lanka, is a former mayor of the city of Biratnagar; Narayan Prasad Sangraula, nominated for Myanmar, is professor of history; and Kul Prasad Nepal, nominated for Brazil, is a former ruling party lawmaker.

Sumitra Subedi, who was nominated for Denmark, is a primary school teacher and a parent of Rajan Bhattarai, Prime Minister Oli’s external relations adviser.

Meraj Musalman, nominated for Saudi Arabia, has long been associated with the Muslim wing of the ruling CPN-UML. Janga Bahadur Chauhan, who was nominated for Russia, is professor of English at the University of Kathmandu. He was educated in Russia.

A leader of the ruling party, who maintains an interest in foreign relations, said he was even surprised by the government’s list of candidates for ambassadorial posts.

“I don’t know most of the names,” admitted the Post chief. “We have made several mistakes in the conduct of foreign policy in the past. I’m afraid we’ll make another mistake.

“We need young, competent and qualified individuals to represent our country, especially in countries that are important to us,” added the leader.

Prem Khanal, head of the department of international relations at Tribhuvan University, maintains a clear view on the appointment of ambassadors: people without diplomatic knowledge should not be appointed diplomats.

“How can an individual without knowledge of diplomacy and foreign relations ensure and work in the national interest? It could be another diplomatic disaster that we have seen in the past by sending unqualified and inexperienced people to represent Nepal in foreign countries, to recall them later, ”Khanal told the Post.

Suresh Pradhan, former ambassador to Germany, said it is never good for the country’s image when ambassadorial appointments are made on the basis of political affiliation and not meritocracy.

“In some countries and apart from certain special circumstances, the appointment of ambassadors should be the responsibility of the Foreign Ministry,” he said. “The ambassadorial post is not an on-the-job training post. One of them requires vigorous and continuous study, training and experience.

The issue of ambassadorial appointments has long been controversial in Nepal. Even previous governments have been known to nominate candidates based on their political affiliations, even if they were unqualified.

“A party that sits in government appoints and dismisses ambassadors for their political interests and convenience,” said Geja Sharma Wagle, a columnist who writes on foreign policy and strategic issues. “It’s an unfortunate thing happening to our country. Our leaders prefer cronyism to qualifications. They do not hesitate to politicize government agencies and foreign missions. ”

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