KATHMANDU, Nov 16: The government has recalled Nepal’s ambassador to Israel Niranjan Thapa, who was appointed by the then coalition government led by Pushpa Kamal Dahal.
A cabinet meeting held on Sunday decided to recommend Anjan Shakya to replace Rastriya Prajatantra Party (RPP) leader and former minister Thapa in the post, according to Minister for Communication and Information Technology Gokul Banskota.
Shakya is Prime Minister KP Oli’s sister-in-law. She once worked as executive director of the Institute of Foreign Affairs (IFA) and also runs the think tank International Concern Center.
Although Banskota did not state any reason for Thapa’s recall, sources within the government said this is just the beginning of the recall of ambassadors appointed by the erstwhile government. Except for a few ‘influential’ ones, all the ambassadors appointed under the quotas of then ruling parties Nepali Congress and RPP are set to be recalled.
Banskota, who is also government spokesman, said the government had started the process of making appointments to vacant ambassadorial positions and recalling those not performing satisfactorily. He claimed that no one would be recalled because of their political allegiance.
Minister for Foreign Affairs Pradeep Gyawali, meanwhile, said they will take a decision to recall ambassadors on the basis of level of performance. “We will not hold it against them that certain ambassadors were appointed by the opposition party. But performance is key,” he said in an interaction with journalists Wednesday.
Gyawali said they have been closely observing the performance of the ambassadors over the past eight months. “We are now in a position to evaluate their performance,” he said.
Senior leaders of the ruling Nepal Communist Party (NCP) said there is concern within the party that ambassadors appointed under the quotas of the opposition parties are spreading anti-government views in their host countries.
A cabinet meeting held on February 20, 2017 had recommended 14 ambassadors on the basis of quotas among the ruling parties — NC, Maoist Center, RPP-N and MPRF (D). While five ambassadors were nominated from the NC quota, the Maoist Center had four names in the list. Similarly, RPP-N recommended three names and MPRF (D) one for ambassadorial positions.
Sources said the government is preparing to recall Ramesh Koirala (ambassador to Qatar) and Arjun Jung Bahadur Singh (South Korea) who were appointed under the NC quota and Bharat Rayamajhi (Spain), who was appointed under RPP’s quota, anytime now. There have been several complaints against them over performance and professional integrity.
Nepal’s man in Bangladesh Dr Chop Lal Bhusal and Bhim Udas (Myanmar) are also in the recall list, sources said. However, Prativa Rana (Japan), Sharmila Dhakal (Oman) and Prof. Bishwambhar Pyakurel (Sri Lanka) are less likely to be recalled for now, even though they were appointed by a previous regime.
While Rana is the mother-in-law of NC President Sher Bahadur Deuba, Prof Pyakurel is a noted economist close to the NC. Dhakal is a manpower enterprenuer and said to be in the good books of Prime Minister Oli’s team. She was appointed under the quota of the Bijaya Kumar Gachchhadar-led erstwhile Madhesi People’s Rights Forum (Democratic) which later merged with NC.