22-28 April 2016 #805

Ambassadors at large

Editorial in Kantipur, 21 April

For the past three years, ambassadorial appointments have been delayed due to political wrangling. This week, the cabinet finally recommended 21 envoys to head Nepali diplomatic missions around the world.  But that brings more criticism than cheer.

Out of the 21 nominees, eight are career diplomats and the rest are individuals close to the ruling parties. The remaining quota for Oman has been reserved for Madhesi Janadhikar Forum Loktantrik.

It’s a long standing tradition in Nepal to fill half the diplomatic positions with political appointees regardless of qualification or capability. The political appointees are more often than not still politically active. The same trend has been repeated -- another lost opportunity.

An ambassador represents the entire country. As a diplomat, the ambassador plays an important role in the relations between two countries. There are many examples where political appointees have gone against diplomatic norms to serve the party agenda. On the other hand, in the absence of a parliamentary committee, it will still take some time before the envoys can assume office. In order to avoid further delays, it is imperative that the parliament introduce bylaws and form the committee.

The government has also appointed an envoy for Austria where Nepal doesn’t have a resident mission. At a time when voices are being raised to close down unnecessary embassies, this move cannot be justified. In the past Nepal’s embassy was opened in Canada after the Girija Prasad Koirala led government appointed an ambassador to Canada. The government should stop opening embassies just to create jobs for party cadre. Instead it should focus on managing the present embassies properly and closing embassies that are not needed.