India calls back envoy to Nepal for emergency briefing

Kathmandu, April 23 (Inditop) New Delhi has called back its ambassador to Nepal Rakesh Sood for an emergency briefing Thursday after the drama over the potential sacking of Nepal’s army chief by the Maoist-led government spilled over onto the streets with the former guerrillas making public threats of capturing the army headquarters.

Sood cancelled his appointment with the Nepali Minister for Water Resources Bishnu Poudel, whom he was to have handed over Indian assistance worth over Rs.100 million, at the last minute Thursday to catch an afternoon flight to New Delhi.

Before he left, the ambassador, along with seven other foreign envoys, who together form Nepal’s biggest bloc of donors, met Maoist Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal Prachanda to express their collective concern over the growing dissent in Nepal’s major political parties and the effect it would have on the ongoing peace process.

Besides India, the ambassadors of Britain, US, China, Japan, Finland, Norway and Germany formed Thursday’s diplomatic corps meeting Prachanda.

Prachanda’s media advisor Om Sharma told IANS that India was urging the major parties to work together and had reiterated support for the peace process.

The PM, Sharma said, had assured the ambassadorial delegation that the Maoist party was committed to democracy, human rights, the freedom of the press and an independent judiciary.

Defending the Maoists’ attempt to fire army chief Gen Rookmangud Katawal just four months before he is due to retire, Prachanda said it was done to strengthen democracy and ascertain civil supremacy over the military.

The Maoist supremo, whose government had earlier sought to retire eight brigadier-generals, denied that his party was trying to capture power by bringing the army under its control.

Thursday’s meeting makes it the third one in less than a week that Sood met Prachanda after the furore erupted.

On Wednesday, the top Maoist leaders, who had earlier been urging the government to dismiss the army chief, asked it to go slow, attributing the decision to “pressure by India and the US”.

Subsequently, the cabinet, which was to have decided beleaguered Katawal’s fate, decided to put off its verdict.

The chief of the UN agency that is involved in the peace process also met Prachanda Thursday, indicating the mounting world concern at the new developments in the Himalayan republic.

Karin Landgren, chief of the UN Mission in Nepal that has been supervising the arms and combatants of the Maoist army since the guerrillas signed a peace pact in 2006, reportedly asked about the proposed merger of the guerrilla People’s Liberation Army with the Nepal Army, which is a key step in the peace process.

Though Prachanda has publicly pledged the thorny task will be completed by July 15, the fresh spat with the army raises new doubts about his promise.

Despite their repeated promise to the UN to discharge all child soldiers and other disqualified PLA combatants, the Maoists are yet to do so.