Hearing Committee endorses names of all four ambassadorial nomineesDespite a strong stance against the nominations in the beginning, opposition lawmakers withdrew their plans to call the prime minister for clarification.
On Monday morning, it was all but certain that the Hearing Committee of Parliament would summon Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli to inquire over the government’s nomination of four new ambassadors last month. However, by late evening, the committee ended up endorsing the recommendation of all four nominees and only one opposition lawmaker boycotted the meeting after the committee failed to summon Oli.
All Nepali Congress lawmakers had demanded that Oli be summoned to the meeting since he, as head of the Cabinet and chairman of the Constitutional Council, was responsible for selecting ambassadorial candidates and recommending names for constitutional bodies. The opposition party had also boycotted the hearings of chairpersons nominated for various inclusion commissions and the chief commissioner of the Election Commission in February.
“We have been demanding that Oli must be summoned to clarify controversial recommendations under his leadership,” said Bhimsen Das Pradhan, the only lawmaker who boycotted the hearing. “I decided to boycott the meeting because our voice wasn’t heard.” Other party members, however, attended the meeting and endorsed the nomination.
Last month, the Cabinet had recommended Mahesh Dahal as ambassador to Australia, Narad Bhardwaj Wagle to Qatar, Dr Banshidhar Mishra to Bangladesh, and Dawa Futi Sherpa to Spain. The recommendations immediately attracted criticism, as the government’s nominations contradicted the ambassador selection criteria set last year by Minister for Foreign Affairs Pradeep Gyawali.
Opposition lawmakers were particularly unhappy with the recommendations of Dahal and Sherpa.
Dahal, a former Congress leader, had supported Nepal Communist Party co-chair Pushpa Kamal Dahal for the general elections in Chitwan. He later joined the communist party and was recommended for ambassador as a reward for his help to the party chair, according to the Congress.
Sherpa, who doesn’t have any diplomatic experience, is the daughter of the late Pasang Lhamu Sherpa, the first Nepali woman to summit Everest and Lakpa Sonam Sherpa, brother of late tourism entrepreneur Ang Tshering Sherpa, who had close relations with Oli.
The hearing committee had received two complaints against Dahal, saying his wife is a permanent resident of the United States. Dahal, however, refuted the claim.
“My wife has a work permit, but she is not a permanent resident,” said Dahal while responding to the concerns of lawmakers. He also said that he would resign if any members of his family were found to be permanent residents of another country.
Despite concerns, members of the Nepali Congress endorsed the recommendations as they felt the prime minister had fulfilled necessary procedures, according to Pushpa Bhusal, another Nepali Congress lawmaker.
“The endorsement of the ambassadors' nomination doesn’t mean that our demands to summon Oli for clarification won’t take place in the future,” said Bhusal.
With the endorsement, the doors are now open for the government to appoint the four ambassadors to their respective foreign missions.