New Indian envoy’s arrival in Nepal delayed

August 10th, 2011 - 4:16 pm ICT by IANS  

Kathmandu, Aug 10 (IANS) The arrival of India’s ambassador-designate to Nepal, Jayant Prasad, has been delayed with Nepal’s foreign ministry saying it had no immediate information when he would assume office.

The protocol division of the ministry told IANS that Prasad was to have submitted his credentials to Nepal’s President, Dr Ram Baran Yadav, on Aug 14.

However, with his predecessor Rakesh Sood’s departure fixed only on Thursday, the new envoy’s arrival will now be delayed by almost a fortnight.

Sood’s departure date was formally announced only on Tuesday night after he paid a courtesy call on Prime Minister Jhala Nath Khanal.

Sood will now be posted in Paris as the Indian ambassador there. The delay by the French government in forwarding its agreemo, thanks to public holidays in France, contributed to his delayed departure and Prasad’s delayed arrival.

However, it could be a blessing in disguise since it will give the Indian government time to take stock of the situation in Nepal and shore up its strategy in view of the political changes that seem imminent.

The Nepali PM had made a public commitment that he would resign if the deadlocked peace process made no new progress by Aug 13.

With the process still in the doldrums and the opposition demanding his ouster, Saturday will be another critical date in Nepal’s turbulent politics.

The pressure on the six-month-old coalition government has been mounting with a section of his own allies, the Maoists, also asking him to quit.

Maoist deputy chief and former finance minister Dr Baburam Bhattarai is being projected by his followers as Nepal’s new prime minister-in-waiting.

However, even if Khanal resigns, the formation of a new government - the fifth in four years - may not be an easy task.

The second-largest party in parliament, the Nepali Congress, says it should be allowed to head the new government since the Maoists and the communists have already had a go at it.

To complicate things further, the largest opposition party has been witnessing an internal fight among its top leaders with former prime minister Sher Bahadur Deuba now trying to stake his claim over his party peer and former prime ministerial candidate Ram Chandra Poudel.

Last time, it took seven months and 17 rounds of election for Nepal’s parliament to elect a new premier.

The new turmoil comes with just three weeks left for the government to unveil a new constitution.

However, it is certain that the government will fail to do so by Aug 31, even though the deadline was extended twice.

A huge question mark hangs over the validity of parliament and the government after that especially as Nepal’s Supreme Court this year ruled that the state can’t prolong the deadline eternally.

(Sudeshna Sarkar can be contacted at sudeshna.s@ians.in)

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