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Identifier
Created
Classification
Origin
03KATHMANDU1011
2003-06-02 12:23:00
CONFIDENTIAL
Embassy Kathmandu
Cable title:  

NEPAL: PARTISAN RIVALRY MAY PREVENT CONSENSUS ON

Tags:   PGOV  NP 
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						C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 KATHMANDU 001011 

SIPDIS

STATE FOR SA/INS
LONDON FOR POL - GURNEY

E.O. 12958: DECL: 06/01/2013
TAGS: PGOV NP
SUBJECT: NEPAL: PARTISAN RIVALRY MAY PREVENT CONSENSUS ON
INTERIM PM

REF: A. KATHMANDU 0999

B. KATHMANDU 0991

C. KATHMANDU 0814

Classified By: CDA ROBERT K. BOGGS. REASON: 1.5 (B,D).

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

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 KATHMANDU 001011

SIPDIS

STATE FOR SA/INS
LONDON FOR POL - GURNEY

E.O. 12958: DECL: 06/01/2013
TAGS: PGOV NP
SUBJECT: NEPAL: PARTISAN RIVALRY MAY PREVENT CONSENSUS ON
INTERIM PM

REF: A. KATHMANDU 0999

B. KATHMANDU 0991

C. KATHMANDU 0814

Classified By: CDA ROBERT K. BOGGS. REASON: 1.5 (B,D).

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


1. (C) It seems unlikely that the seven political parties
will be able to offer King Gyanendra a consensus candidate
for Prime Minister by the June 2 deadline he gave them on May
30 (Ref A). Three smaller parties--each of whom is pressing
its own leader as a potential PM--might succeed in
undermining the nomination of Madhav Nepal, the Communist
Party of Nepal - United Marxist Leninist (UML) General
Secretary, who has emerged as the preferred candidate of the

SIPDIS
four other parties. Some politicians interpret the King's
inclusion of the three small "spoiler" parties as a
calculated effort to thwart consensus--thereby allowing him
to appoint another PM of his own choosing. However, since
the political parties have been clamoring for an all-party
government, the King's reasoning that all seven parties ought
to participate in the process seems justifiable. The Embassy
has appealed to all the major political parites to take
advantage of the King's initiative. That said, the domestic
political environment may prove too rancorous to permit
consensus on this matter. End summary.

--------------
CONSENSUS COUNTDOWN
--------------


2. (C) It appears increasingly unlikely that the seven
major political parties will be able to offer King Gyanendra
a consensus candidate for interim prime minister by the late
June 2 deadline he set in his May 30 meeting with them (Ref
A). While four of the five political parties who have been
protesting against the King for more than a month (the Nepali
Congress; the Communist Party of Nepal - United Marxist
Leninist; the People's Front Nepal; and the Peasants and
Workers Party) have agreed to back the nomination of UML
General Secretary Madhav Nepal, the remaining three parties
(the National Democratic Party; one faction of the Nepal
Sadbhavana Party; and former Prime Minister Sher Bahadur
Deuba's Nepali Congress (Democratic)), who have not been

taking part in the "joint" agitation against the King (Ref
C), have counter-proposed their own leaders as suitable
candidates for PM. Although these three parties together
account for only about 35 of the 205 MPs in the previous
Parliament, their intransigence could prove enough to scuttle
the consensus stipulated by the King--a prospect that some
Palace critics say the monarch fully anticipated when he
included them in the all-party meeting on May 30.


3. (C) UML leader Nepal told the Charge on June 2 (by cell
phone as he was leading a protest against the King in
downtown Kathmandu) that he believes he may be able to
persuade Deuba, one of the three hold-outs, to back him as a
second choice. Nepal was less sanguine about prospects of
turning the pro-Palace National Democratic Party President
Pashupati Rana, whose party had 11 MPs in the last
Parliament, or former Deputy Prime Minister Badri Prasad
Mandal, who heads a splinter faction of the Nepal Sadbhavana
Party that can lay claim to only two seats in the same
Parliament. If the two smaller parties indeed attempt to
block his candidacy, Nepal said, the King should be prevailed
upon to accept the nominee with the largest backing (which
would be, presumably, Nepal himself). Nepal asked for the
Embassy's support in pushing this point with the Palace. He
also expressed dismay at the sudden visit of a former Indian
Ambassador to Nepal, whom Nepal clearly perceived as
anti-UML, and hinted that the Indians might be attempting to
block him as well. The Charge emphasized that the USG has no
favorite candidate for PM but is concerned that the parties
take advantage of the King's efforts toward rapprochement.


4. (C) While some critics of the King see his inclusion of
the three "spoiler" parties as as a sure way to obviate
consensus, Nepali Congress President G.P. Koirala apparently
threw his support to erstwhile rival Nepal with the clear
stipulation that Nepal push for another certain
deal-breaker--the reinstatement of the Parliament dissolved
by the King one year ago. (Note: The King has already ruled
out such a step, warning the parties on May 30 not to ask him
to do anything "unconstitutional." According to a source at
the Supreme Court, the proposal to revive an
already-dissolved Parliament has no constitutional basis.
End note.) On June 2 Nepali Congress Central Committee
member Dr. Ram Sharan Mahat (just before leaving his home to
participate in a rally against the King) told the Charge that
the Nepali Congress was demanding the revival of Parliament
as an essential element of the proposed all-party government,
adding that his party would accept only one of the leaders of
the two largest parties--the Nepali Congress or the UML--as
an interim Prime Minister.

--------------
SUSPICIONS, RECRIMINATIONS ABOUND
--------------


5. (C) Another factor arguing against prospects for a
workable consensus is the virulent mutual suspicion between
most of the politcal parties (with the exception of the
National Democratic Party and the Nepal Sadbhavana faction)
and the Palace. Some of this suspicion focuses on the
institution of the monarchy, buttressed by the Palace
bureaucracy, in general, which most politicians believe only
begrudgingly ceded authority after the restoration of
democracy in 1990. But even greater suspicion centers on the
perceived personal leanings of King Gyanendra in particular,
with many politicians now alleging that he had always
exhibited more autocratic tendenies than his late brother.
Whether these suspicions are well-founded or not, the King's
continued exercise of executive authority during the Chand
government undoubtedly feeds them. Many political leaders
who initially supported Chand as a consensus candidate for
interim Prime Minister last October--with the understanding
that their parties could nominate members to his Cabinet--say
they felt betrayed when the King subsequently appointed the
full Cabinet on his own, claiming the parties' in-fighting
and partisanship left him no choice. Many have expressed
concern that the King's seemingly magnanimous invitation to
the parties this time may prove a similar ploy. The King
knows he is asking the impossible by demanding consensus of
bitter political rivals like Deuba and Koirala (Koirala
reportedly will not even enter a room if Deuba is there),
they argue, and thus runs little risk of having to accept
their choice for PM.

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


6. (C) We continue to believe that the King's offer is a
significant step toward broadening the representative base of
government. (We also expect the June 2 deadline to slip a
little.) By giving the parties two options (either
presenting him with the name of a consensus candidate or
suggesting several names if consensus continues to elude
them), the King appears to be making a good-faith effort to
reach a workable agreement. Since the political parties have
been clamoring for an all-party government, it seems
small-minded--if not downright inconsistent--for them now to
object to the King's inclusion of all seven parties in the
process. While we do not know the King's motives in offering
the parties this opening, signals from the Palace indicate
that he is attempting to respond to concerns from the
international community. We find it ironic that the very
politicians who criticized the King's appointment of Chand
the most vehemently are now devising elaborate justifications
for their own appointment. One does not have to hypothesize
a nefarious royal plot to explain why there remains no
consensus candidate for PM. The Embassy will continue to
urge political leaders to take advantage of this opportunity.
BOGGS