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Identifier
Created
Classification
Origin
02KATHMANDU1199
2002-06-18 12:52:00
UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY
Embassy Kathmandu
Cable title:  

RULING PARTY RUMBLE: NEPALI CONGRESS PARTY

Tags:   PGOV  NP  GON 
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This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
						UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 KATHMANDU 001199 

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE

STATE FOR SA/INS
LONDON FOR POL - RIEDEL

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV NP GON
SUBJECT: RULING PARTY RUMBLE: NEPALI CONGRESS PARTY
POSIITONS FOR A SPLIT

REF: A. (A) KATHMANDU 1055

B. (B) KATHMANDU 1091

C. (C) KATHMANDU 1141

---------
SUMMARY
----------

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 KATHMANDU 001199

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE

STATE FOR SA/INS
LONDON FOR POL - RIEDEL

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV NP GON
SUBJECT: RULING PARTY RUMBLE: NEPALI CONGRESS PARTY
POSIITONS FOR A SPLIT

REF: A. (A) KATHMANDU 1055

B. (B) KATHMANDU 1091

C. (C) KATHMANDU 1141

--------------
SUMMARY
--------------


1. (SBU) As predicted (Ref A), supporters of Prime Minister
Sher Bahadur Deuba have called a General Convention of the
Nepali Congress Party with the aim of deposing Party
President and former PM Girija Prasad Koirala from his post.
The motion to oust Koirala from the party leadership is
expected late the evening of June 18. If carried, the motion
will almost certainly provoke counter-challenges from the
Koirala camp before the Election Commission and the Supreme
Court. Chronic intra-party strife threatens to continue to
divert the nation's leadership from more important
problems--such as the Maoist insurgency--afflicting the
country. A split in the party is also likely to offer new
opportunities to the Congress' rivals, including the
Communist Party of Nepal - United Marxist Leninist, the
largest Opposition party. End summary.

--------------
PARTY GENERAL CONVENTION CONVENES
--------------


2. (U) After efforts to reconcile the two warring factions
of the Nepali Congress Party proved fruitless, supporters of
Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba called a General Convention
of the Nepali Congress Party membership in the capital June
17-18 with the aim of deposing Party President and former PM
Girija Prasad Koirala from his post. The Convention caps a
series of strikes and counter-strikes--including Deuba's
expulsion from the party--in the ongoing power struggle
between the two leaders (Reftels). One delegate told the
Ambassador June 17 that 800 bona fide Convention members (out
of a total of 1,465) participated in the closed session the
first day. One local press report put the number of
attendees at 900. A 51 percent majority of Convention
members' votes is needed in order to amend the party
Constitution, while a two-thirds majority is needed to depose
the President.


3. (SBU) According to Karna Malla, PM Deuba's personal
assistant, delegates at the second session the late afternoon
of June 18 were voting on amendments to the party
Constitution--including, most likely, the stipulation of a
two-thirds majority to oust the President. Once the
amendments are accepted into the Constitution, a vote to
depose the President will follow on the late evening of June
18, Malla predicted. As of COB June 18, the delegates
remained closeted.

--------------
CONVENTION ILLEGAL, CLAIMS KOIRALA CAMP
--------------


4. (SBU) Also as expected, supporters of aging Party
President G.P. Koirala are rejecting the Convention as
illegal. Party General Secretary Sushil Koirala (who was
holding his own meeting with a rival group of party members
when we talked to him June 18) claimed that the attendees do
not hold valid credentials and noted that Koirala supporters
are boycotting the sessions. Deuba cannot call a General
Convention now that he has been expelled from the party
membership (Ref A). Should Deuba admit his mistake in
dissolving Parliament, however, his expulsion might be
reconsidered, Koirala explained. He added that he questions
the attendance tallies reported in the daily press, asserting
that no more than 400 members are attending the Convention.

--------------
COMMENT
--------------


5. (SBU) If Convention members proceed as expected with
amending the Party Constitution to oust Koirala as Nepali
Congress President, it could trigger a tendentious legal
battle--played out first before the Election Commission Court
and then, most likely, before the Supreme Court--as the two
factions fight for the right to use the name, symbol, flag,
and other assorted paraphernalia of Nepal's oldest and
largest party in the November 13 elections. (One historical
note: The Supreme Court heard a similar case in 1994, after
the Election Commission refused to allow Baburam Bhattarai's
faction of the United People's Front to register for
elections. Although Bhattarai's faction won before the
Supreme Court, he refused to participate in the elections and
went underground, re-emerging two years later to head the
Maoist insurgency.) Whatever the outcome of the legal
contest, it is unlikely to matter to the country's voters as
much as the fact that such protracted, self-interested
intra-party squabbling continues to divert the leadership's
attention from addressing far more significant issues--such
as the Maoist insurgency--directly affecting their
constituents. Regardless of who prevails in court, this most
recent Congress controversy can only further tarnish that
proud old party's public image, thereby offering fresh
opportunities to other contenders, including the Communist
Party of Nepal - United Marxist Leninist, in the upcoming
elections.


4.
MALINOWSKI