Panel to question minister on lack of inclusiveness in envoy nominationsParliamentary hearing committee is set to meet today.
The Parliamentary Hearing Committee has decided to summon Foreign Minister NP Saud following public complaints that the principle of inclusiveness was ignored in ambassadorial nominations.
The decision was made on Tuesday after studying the complaints lodged against the government’s nomination last month of ambassadors for six Nepali missions. Ambassadorial positions are vacant in seven vacant missions and the government has yet to name its ambassador for Canada.
“We have decided to summon the foreign minister to the meeting of the parliamentary hearing committee on Wednesday,” said Gyanendra Bahadur Karki, a member of the committee. According to him there are allegations that the nominations have not been inclusive.
The hearing committee had solicited complaints from the public against the six ambassadorial nominees. Among the total complaints, five were deemed insignificant, and therefore ignored.
A Cabinet meeting in mid-July had recommended six joint secretaries of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to serve various missions abroad—Lok Bahadur Thapa (Nepal’s permanent representative to the UN), Ghanashyam Lamsal (Kuwait), Dhan Bahadur Oli (Thailand), Tej Bahadur Chhetri (UAE), Ram Prasad Subedi (Switzerland), and Sudhir Bhattarai (France).
“This time, the nominations were made from among career diplomats, so it was not possible to make the recommendations fully inclusive,” a senior foreign ministry official said.
The government can do so while recommending names under political quotas. There is a “gentleman’s agreement” or a red line among parties to fill 60 percent of the ambassadorial positions through political nominations and the remaining from among career diplomats.
“However, we have been constantly asking the political leadership that except for India, China, the US, the UK, and the UN, the rest of the nominations should be made from among career diplomats.”
Nirmala Devi Lamichhane, joint-secretary at the federal parliament, said that Tuesday’s meeting also discussed the public complaints and those lacking sufficient evidence were ignored.
Three of the six nominees have been invited to Wednesday’s meeting, according to her.
The principle of inclusiveness is one of the major criteria, which was introduced in 2018, by the KP Sharma-led government. But the criterion has been ignored several times in the past.
Point number 5 of the criteria states: Ambassadorial appointments will be made from among experienced persons, having an excellent academic record with the diplomatic capability with regard to the principle of inclusiveness, national welfare and representing the state.
Point number 6 further states that “ambassadors must be capable and have the experience of Nepal’s foreign policy, international relations, dynamics of bilateral and multilateral diplomacy”.
After discussing with Foreign Minister Saud, the hearing committee will discuss the plan, vision, qualification, and other matters with the nominees.
Article 282 of the constitution states that the President will appoint ambassadors following the principle of inclusiveness.
Nepal’s constitution also requires adherence to the principle of inclusion in government appointments.
But this is not the first time that the parties have ignored the principle while nominating ambassadors.
In 2015, a parliamentary panel had instructed the government to ensure inclusiveness in ambassadorial appointments. Similarly, the Commission for Investigation of Abuse of Authority in 2016, had directed the government and other stakeholders to make ambassadorial appointments more fair and dignified. But the parties have often been ignoring the instructions and dividing the positions among themselves and making appointments based on loyalty rather than competence.
At Tuesday's meeting, committee members said it would be better to question the government on the issue of inclusiveness. “For national unity we need inclusiveness. Let’s find out the view of the foreign ministry on the matter,” said Karki, the parliamentarian.
“We don’t want to be seen merely as a rubber stamp for government decisions.”