MCC dominates ambassadorial hearing

Almost 40 days after their nomination, the Parliament Hearing Committee on Monday endorsed all three nominees for ambassadors — Shankar Sharma for India, Sridhar Khatri for the US, and Gyan Chandra Acharya for the United Kingdom.

Monday’s was the third meeting called by the committee chair Laxman Lal Karna after the earlier two meetings were postponed for lack of a quorum as the major parties are busy in their general conventions.

However, during Khatri’s hearing, the Millennium Challenge Corporation Nepal Compact, the $500 million grant, figured prominently. As the lawmakers from the parties in the ruling coalition discussed the pros and cons of the MCC, the main opposition CPN-UML sought an official government position on the compact.

Chief whip of the ruling CPN (Maoist Centre), Dev Prasad Gurung, claimed that the US was trying to develop a military base in Nepal as per its security strategy. “Economic assistance does not need parliamentary ratification, but the fact that MCC requires parliamentary endorsement has created suspicions,” Gurung said. “The MCC compact must be revised to protect Nepal’s national interests.”

However, lawmaker from the ruling Nepali Congress, Pushpa Bhusal asked Gurung not to make superficial comments about the grant.

“All three names were endorsed unanimously,” said Amrita Thapa, a member of the Parliamentary Hearing Committee. “There was a long debate for and against the MCC during today’s hearing.”

The current government led by Nepali Congress President Sher Bahadur Deuba had on September 21 recalled a dozen ambassadors appointed by the former KP Sharma Oli-led government and recommended the three for India, US and the UK on October 28.

The parliamentary hearing of the nominees needs to be completed within 45 days.

Nepal has 33 diplomatic missions around the world and currently 23 missions are without their heads.

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