KATHMANDU, July 17: The government has made it mandatory for the ambassadors to take oath of office and secrecy from the executive head before taking up diplomatic assignments abroad.
A new policy document that stipulates criteria for the appointment of ambassadors endorsed recently by the cabinet made this new provision. Except for facing parliamentary hearings special committee and getting its approval, the ambassadors appointed by the government so far do not need to take oath of office and secrecy.
Addressing a press briefing organized at Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA) on Monday, Minister for Foreign Affairs Pradeep Gyawali said that various 14 criteria have been introduced in the policy document for the appointment of new ambassadors. “All ambassadors need to take oath of office and secrecy from the prime minister,” he said, while briefing on the new provisions.
Although a similar provision of taking oath of office and secrecy existed during the Panchayat era, the practice was scrapped after 1990. During the Panchayat era, Chief Justice or Senior Justice of Supreme Court used to administer oath of office and secrecy to new envoys.
Foreign policy experts have taken strong exception to the new provision. “It is not the government, but the nation that the ambassadors represent in the host countries. The credentials of the ambassadors carry the signature of the president and the foreign minister,” said a former ambassador, requesting anonymity.
Officials said the new criteria for ambassadors have been introduced targeting mainly the political appointees. These new criteria are expected to address the concerns from various quarters about the qualifications of politically-appointed ambassadors.
As per the new criteria endorsed by the cabinet, candidate aspiring to be ambassadors need to be at least 35 years old and possess bachelor’s degree and good knowledge of English language. Similarly, a person, who has been dismissed from government job as ineligible for any government positions in future, cannot become ambassador.
The new criteria also bars those holding permanent residency cards of foreign countries, and those working in I/NGOs at the time of appointment and possessing potential conflict of interests in their host country from being appointed as ambassadors.
Uprety nominated as envoy to India, Pandey to Malaysia
Foreign Minister Gyawali informed that the cabinet on Monday nominated former Chief Election Commissioner Neel Kantha Upreti for Nepali ambassador to India and former ambassador to Saudi Arabia Udaya Raj Pandey as ambassador to Malaysia in line with the new criteria introduced by the government.
The ambassadorial post in India was lying vacant after the then ambassador Deep Kumar Upadhyaya chose to resign the post to contest the parliamentary election from Kapilbastu last year. Similarly, the post of ambassador in Malaysia fell vacant after the four-year term of the then ambassador Niranjan Man Singh Basnyat expired a few months ago.
While Upadhyaya was a political appointee of Nepali Congress (NC)-led government, Basnyat is a career diplomat. The two candidates nominated for envoys for India and Malaysia are considered close to ruling Nepal Communist Party.