Diplomatic tug-of-war over Nepal begins anew

June 9th, 2009 - 3:51 pm ICT by IANS  

Kathmandu, June 9 (IANS) As the new government of Nepal Tuesday remained trapped in an impasse even a fortnight after its formation, world concern began to mount with the UN being the first to send its envoy to the Himalayan republic lying under a fresh Maoist siege.
Tamrat Samuel, UN’s director for Asia and the Pacific in the Department of Political Affairs, arrived in Kathmandu Tuesday for a six-day visit to discuss the peace process with the republic’s key players, a UN spokesman said.

Straight after his arrival, Samuel will be holding talks separately with Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal, former premier Girija Prasad Koirala whose Nepali Congress party has remained deadlocked with the PM on the allocation of ministries despite sending six ministers, and Maoist supremo Pushpa Kamal Dahal Prachanda whose party has begun a three-fold battle against the Nepal government.

Besides the drafting of a new constitution by next year, the UN is concerned about the integration of the state troops with the Maoists’ People’s Liberation Army (PLA), which is on the verge of collapsing after the fall of the Maoist government, the discharge of child soldiers from the PLA cantonments and the growing violence with the Maoists hitting the streets in protest.

On Thursday, the newly appointed US Assistant Secretary of State for South Asian Affairs Robert O. Blake will arrive on a three-day visit, during which he will meet Madhav Kumar, President Ram Baran Yadav and Foreign Minister Sujata Koirala.

The US, which has refused to remove the Maoists from its list of terror organisations, has repeatedly showed concern at Maoist cadres taking the law into their own hands and going unpunished.

While envoys head for Nepal, there is growing speculation as to which foreign country will be the new prime minister’s first destination.

While his predecessor Prachanda chose to break away from tradition and flew to Beijing before New Delhi, Madhav Kumar is tipped to visit India first.

Since he has accepted an invitation by Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak to participate in the Non-Aligned Movement Summit, scheduled to be held in Egypt from July 11-16, it is speculated that Nepal could go via New Delhi.

But before he can accept invitations to go abroad, the premier needs to make peace within his own government and with the Maoists.

The Maoists have kept up a blockade of parliament and paralysed the country with a series of general strikes and public rallies, seeking a debate in parliament over the constitutionality of the president reinstating the army chief they had sacked.

In addition, the Communist Party of Nepal-Unified Marxist Leninist is fighting among itself and with the Nepali Congress over ministries, causing the expansion of the cabinet and allocation of portfolios to inducted ministers to be halted for a fortnight now.

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