Ruling, main oppn parties sharply divided over Venezuelan crisis

Published On: February 4, 2019 06:00 AM NPT By: Kosh Raj Koirala  | @KoshRKoirala

NC slams statements issued by NCP Chair Dahal and MoFA

KATHMANDU, Feb 4: The controversy surrounding the statements issued earlier by the ruling Nepal Communist Party (NCP) Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal and the government on the ongoing political crisis in Venezuela has left the country's two major political parties in parliament sharply divided.

While the ruling NCP stands in support of the disputed leader of Venezuela Nicolas Maduro, the main opposition party, Nepali Congress (NC), has denounced the statement, throwing its weight behind the US and its allies over their overtures to exert pressure on Maduro to give in to the demand to hold free and fair elections.

The NC, which maintained a conspicuous silence on the controversy that began last week, finally made its position clear on Sunday, saying that the statement issued by Dahal and the subsequent statement issued by the government were “immature” and “against Nepal's national interests”.

A Parliamentary Party (PP) meeting of the Nepali Congress held on Sunday denounced the NCP statement which slammed “US and its allies” for “intervention in the internal affairs of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela with the intention of increasing violence by dividing the people and challenging democracy, sovereignty and peace”.

The PP meeting has taken exception to the criticism made against the long-standing development partner of the country, while taking side of a country with which Nepal does not have any bilateral interactions. “The meeting of NC Parliamentary Party expresses objection to this type of insensitive, immature and indifferent action toward the national interests,” said a press statement issued by NC Chief Whip Bal Krishna Khand.

NCP Chairman Dahal in his statement had termed the moves of “US and its allies” an “unacceptable intrusion in internal affairs and an attempt of imperialist coup”, while opposing “the act of anti-people and imperialist forces intruding Venezuela”. Angered by such “strong-worded statement”, the US had sought clarifications from the top leaders of the ruling parties if the statement reflected the position of the government and also inquired about this with Nepal's ambassador to Washington DC Arjun Karki at the Department of State.

Although the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA) later issued a statement which tried to distance itself from Dahal's statement, the move failed to impress the US officials. The MoFA statement stressed on the need for resolving the political crisis in Venezuela without “external interference”, while echoing the spirit of Dahal's statement.

US officials have termed Nepal's statements on the Venezuela crisis “unfair”, “ill-advised” and that “does not serve Nepal's interests”. Sources said they are particularly miffed with the jargons borrowed from the communist ideology to slam the US and the allies in Dahal's statement.

Addressing parliament on Sunday, NC leader Gagan Thapa also criticized the government and the ruling party leader for issuing statements on the Venezuela crisis. Thapa accused the government of creating a fresh crisis in the country by making unwarranted statements on the crisis in the Bolivarian Republic.

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