US sends envoy to Nepal

June 12th, 2009 - 11:16 am ICT by IANS  

Barack Obama Kathmandu, June 12 (IANS) The new Barack Obama government sent its first envoy to Nepal Friday with US Assistant Secretary for South and Central Asian Affairs Robert O. Blake arriving here for consultations with the republic’s key political players.
Blake arrived in Kathmandu as part of his three-nation tour, including India and Bangladesh.

During his two-day visit, he will meet Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal, President Ram Baran Yadav, Minister of Foreign Affairs Sujata Koirala and Maoist supremo Pushpa Kamal Dahal Prachanda, whose Maoist party is now sitting in opposition.

The envoy will also meet the leaders of other political parties, government officials and UN representatives to discuss the establishment of the new government, continuation of the peace process, and economic development, the US embassy said in a press statement.

Blake’s visit comes at a time when Nepal is going through a period of turbulence with the 17-day-old Communist-led government unable to expand its cabinet due to infighting among its allies. Barring three in the 11-member cabinet, the rest of the ministers are yet to be allocated their portfolios.

In addition, the Nepal government has been facing paralysing protests by the opposition Maoist party, which is demanding a debate in parliament on the role played by the president during a row last month involving the army chief, which triggered the fall of the Maoist government.

On Friday, an ethnic organization of the Maoists, the Magar Rastriya Mukti Morcha, called a general strike in nine districts in western Nepal, including Rolpa and Rukum, considered the cradle of the Maoist insurgency.

The Maoist protests, including public rallies and area-wise general strikes, began since June 3.

The former rebels have also kept up a siege to parliament since last month, preventing it from convening, raising fears that the nascent republic might not be able to promulgate a new constitution by next year.

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