|02KATHMANDU768||2002-04-18 10:39:00||CONFIDENTIAL||Embassy Kathmandu|
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 KATHMANDU 000768
1. (C) Ongoing attempts by former Prime Minister and Nepali
Congress Party President Girija Prasad Koirala to topple the
current Prime Minister, Sher Bahadur Deuba, appear to be on
hold for the time being. According to the Indian Ambassador,
PM Vajpayee, Minister for External Affairs Singh, Home
Minister Advani, Defense Minister Fernandes and the BJP
President had each discouraged Koirala during his current
visit from pursuing a no-confidence motion. In an April 17
meeting with Nepali Congress Party General Secretary (and
Koirala cousin) Sushil Koirala, the Ambassador stressed the
importance of a united political front to face down the
threat from the Maoist insurgency. Sushil Koirala seemed to
take the message on board--albeit somewhat grudgingly--and
did not raise the subject of a change in government.
Although G.P. Koirala may be dissuaded for now, he can be
counted on to resume his machinations against Deuba the next
opportunity he sees. End summary.
NEW DELHI SAID TO NIX KOIRALA CAMPAIGN
2. (C) Indian Ambassador to Nepal Singh told Ambassador
Malinowski April 17 that Prime Minister Vajpayee, Minister
for External Affairs Singh, Defense Minister Fernandes, Home
Minister Advani, and the BJP President had each told former
Nepali Prime Minister and current Nepali Congress Party
President Girija Prasad Koirala, in New Delhi for a visit, to
desist from efforts to topple his long-time rival, current
Nepali PM Sher Bahadur Deuba. Ambassador Singh said G.P.
seemed to have got the unambiguous message that the Indians
would not support a change in government at the present and
expected him to stand down.
NC GENERAL SECRETARY CALL ON AMBASSADOR
3. (C) On April 17 Nepali Congress General Secretary (and
G.P. cousin) Sushil Koirala called on Ambassador Malinowski
at the Residence. Commending the April 15 all-party meeting
that resulted in a unanimous decision to oppose the April
23-27 Maoist general strike, the Ambassador stressed the
importance of party unity at this time of national crisis.
(Note: Party leaders--including leaders of the Nepali
Congress--had boycotted an earlier all-party meeting called
by Deuba on March 27. End note.) Of course all political
parties have differences and disagreements, the Ambassador
observed; thus it is especially heartening to see the parties
overcome these differences and stand united on this important
issue. The USG fully recognizes the challenges before Nepal
and wants to be helpful; the Embassy has asked for a package
of security and development assistance to help Nepal overcome
the threat from the insurgency. While we are pushing to get
this assistance in Washington, it is good to know the
political parties are doing what they can to help their own
country in its hour of need, the Ambassador concluded.
4. (C) Koirala said the Nepali Congress has been the main
target of Maoist aggression becaue it has always been the
champion of democracy. Only his party has organized all of
the district party chairmen to oppose the Maoists, Koirala
claimed. Why then should the Army Chief single out only
Deuba and "a few young ministers" as the only ones helping
the Army to stand up to the Maoists (Ref B). Koirala said he
viewed the Army Chief's public comments as highly worrisome,
especially in light of the Army's historical role in backing
the Palace against the Nepali Congress in its early struggle
to bring democracy to Nepal. Did the Army Chief's comments
signal some darker intention? The Ambassador said both the
military leadership, including the Army Chief, and the King
had underscored to him on a number of occasions their respect
for the Constitution. The Army has no intention of staging a
coup, the Ambassador said; to do so would cost them not only
the support of the Nepali public but of foreign donors as
well. In the continuing series of conversations with the
Palace, government and security forces, the U.S. has always
stressed the need for all to abide by the Constitution and to
respect human rights.
5. (C) Why are foreign donors so supportive of Deuba?
Koirala asked, adding he could not recall any previous PM
receiving similar support. The Ambassador replied that
friends of Nepal are committed to helping the country through
this crisis. Nepal's friends support the government's effort
and commitment to overcome this crisis, rather than a
particular individual. He recalled during his previous
tenure as DCM and Charge in Nepal the USG working closely
with then-PM G.P. Koirala to give disaster relief assistance
in the wake of especially destructive and unprecedented
flooding. He also reminded Sushil Koirala of the help he and
other foreign emissaries had provided G.P. in countering a
series of violent bandhs in the early 1990s and in brokering
a rapprochement between G.P. and the major opposition party.
Neither the U.S. Embassy or the Ambassador himself is "for"
or "against" any particular political personality, he
emphasized; we support the democratically elected leader,
whoever it is, attempting to lead Nepal out of this crisis.
Koirala thanked the Ambassador for his views and left without
raising a possible change in government.
6. (C) The Ambassador went over the same ground he went
over with Sushil Koirala in an April 18 meeting with Nepali
Congress MP and former Minister of Commerce and Health Ram
Krishna Tamarakar, a long-time G.P. ally. Tamarakar, who
also is very close to Sushil Koirala, had sought a meeting
with the Ambassador, perhaps at the request of G.P.
7. (C) The message should be crystal clear to Koirala and
his cohorts by now that a move to change PMs would not be
welcomed by the Palace; the Army; the donors; Nepal's
neighbor and largest trading partner, India; and, probably,
nearly half of the Nepali Congress Party. (Sushil Koirala's
visit to the Ambassador was preceded immediately by a call on
the soon-to-be-departing British Ambassador, who, he told us,
delivered a similar message in rather forceful tones. This
may in part explain Sushil's reticence during his
conversation with Amb. Malinowski.) India's input, if as
reported, will likely prove critical in persuading G.P.
Koirala to hold off on his campaign for now. We don't,
however, expect him to be dissuaded for long. National
crisis or not, at the earliest opportunity--and he always
finds one--we expect G.P. to resume his chronic scheming to
regain the post of prime minister.