Foreign meddling not acceptable: Dr Mahat

Ishwar Dev Khanal

July 17, 2020


Foreign meddling not acceptable: Dr Mahat

KATHMANDU: As Chinese Ambassador to Nepal Hou Yanqi makes frantic moves to patch up the widening rift among the ruling Nepal Communist Party (NCP) leaders, Nepali Congress central leader Dr Prakash Saran Mahat terms it a flimsiness on the part of the NCP leaders, who made to power with ‘tall and patriotic’ promises before the people.

Ambassador Yanqi’s political meetings have drawn concerns of foreign interference and that Nepal’s internal politics are in disarray. Interference in Nepal’s internal affairs, as Dr Mahat claims, is unacceptable, no matter which country does it.

Khabarhub engaged in a brief conversation with Dr Mahat, who is also a former Minister for Foreign Affairs, on a couple of issues, including Ambassador Yanqi’s activities in recent times. Excerpts:

Chinese Ambassador Hou Yanqi is frantically meeting with the ruling Nepal Communist Party top brass. What is your observation?

Meddling in Nepal’s internal affairs — be it anybody, a diplomat or a political leader – will not be acceptable at any cost.

This will not only weaken the political forces but will also affect the country’s democratic values and undermine its dignity and sovereignty.

The political leaders, particularly those in the government, need to be specifically judicious as such activities can be detrimental to the country in the long run. What I believe is that a diplomat must follow the diplomatic code of conduct.

I obviously do not rule out discussions, however, on bilateral issues as they are customary but political meetings amid internal wrangling within a ruling party cannot be acceptable.

I reiterate that any external interference on a country’s internal affairs should be rejected outright.

But there are instances of foreign ambassadors holding meetings with Nepali political leaders in the past as well.

Yes, issues related to fundamental or bilateral relations, however, cannot be taken as interference. For instance, there are international concerns when it comes to the violation of human rights or other fundamental issues in a particular country.

But intrusion on a decision-making process should not be countenanced – be it from a Chinese ambassador or from any other envoys or diplomats.

Is it that the NCP’s intra-party row has given room for the meddling?

Undoubtedly. When a country or a major political party becomes weak, external elements take the floor. This is what has happened here leading to the weakening of democratic institutions.

How do you analyze the dispute within the NCP? Has it frustrated the country’s overall growth?

Indeed, the intra-party dispute within the ruling NCP has disappointed the people as a whole. It has become quite evident that the dispute is self-centric rather than focused on the country or the people.

Personal ego or self-centric attitude has guided the NCP leaders because they have absolutely disregarded the people’s issues. Moreover, people are disappointed with the way the NCP has been trampling over and deviating from its stance and promises.

What is the solution then?

Since the Nepali Congress, the main opposition, has to wait for another two-and-a-half-years for the election, people and NC must continue to warn the ruling party and the government to deliver as promised.

Unfortunately, while people are confused with the political developments, the NCP seems to be least bothered with all the current situation and its fallout. I would label this as rueful.

Youth, mainly apolitical, have hit the streets to express their frustration with the government’s lack of apathy in stemming the COVID-19. What is NC’s observation?

This, apparently, is an indication of frustration and disappointment. However, this movement needs leadership, which only NC can do since history is evident that all the movements in the past have been led and succeeded by this democratic party.

Protests must continue since the government seems to be engaged in retaining its power instead of focusing on people’s problems, including the coronavirus pandemic.

Moreover, Prime Minister KP Oli-led government has misused the government funds and resources to prolong its tenure.

Prime Minister KP Oli is under hot water following his recent remarks on Ayodhya. What is your observation?

PM Oli, in fact, has made a baseless and irresponsible statement by saying that Ayodhya actually lies in Nepal.

Such remarks coming from the executive head will sour the relationship between two friendly neighbors aside from dampening the diplomatic ties.

Furthermore, PM Oli’s remarks will adversely affect Nepal’s efforts to address the territorial dispute through diplomatic talks with India. Taking all these into account, we, therefore, have been emphasizing consistent foreign policy.