KATHMANDU, March 3: The government has changed its decision to nominate Aasha Lama as Nepal's envoy to the United Arab Emirates after the nomination courted a controversy. Sources said the government has also put off the parliamentary hearing of the ambassador-designate to Spain, Bharat Rayamajhi, until it receives concurrence from the Spain government to establish a residential embassy there.
The Council of Ministers on Thursday forwarded the names of only 12 ambassador nominees for parliamentary hearing, dropping the names of Lama and Rayamajhi nearly two weeks after the nomination. Sources at the parliament secretariat confirmed that Lama and Rayamajhi's names have been dropped from the government's recommendation list.
Earlier a cabinet meeting on February 20 had decided to nominate 14 envoys for different countries including Lama and Rayamajhi. But the decision fell into a controversy because of “Lama's controversial background” and the absence of Nepali embassy in Spain.
Ruling Nepali Congress (NC) leaders had vented ire against party President Sher Bahadur Deuba for recommending manpower entrepreneur Lama as an envoy under the party's quota. Likewise, the decision of nominating the envoy to Spain without opening an embassy in the country had also drawn flak. A former Major General of Nepal Army, Rayamajhi was recommended as the envoy to Spain by the ruling coalition Rastriya Prajatantra Party.
The cabinet also held discussions on withdrawing the nomination of Sharmila Parajuli (Dhakal) as the envoy to Oman after a row over her involvement in the manpower business. But Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal dismissed the discussions following pressure from the Madhesi Peoples Right Forum Democratic (MPRF-D) Chairman Bijay Gachchhadar, sources said. Parajuli was recommended as an envoy by Gachchhadar's MPRF-D.
However, the Prime Minister has kept the ministers in the dark about the decision to drop and hold the nominations. A senior minister from the ruling CPN (Maoist Center) said that the decision to withdraw nominations was not shared in the cabinet meeting held on Monday.
The parliamentary committee will publish a notice seeking complaints against the nominees before conducting the parliamentary hearings.
Meanwhile, lawmakers from the opposition parties have been expressing objection over the dilly-dallying of Foreign Affairs Minister Prakash Saran Mahat to resign from the 15-member parliament hearing committee. They have said that it would be unethical for Mahat to take a decision on behalf of the parliamentary committee on the nominations made by the ministry under his leadership.