Baburam Bhattarai Wanted to Meet the US Ambassador’s Rep in 2003…

…thinking that the Ambassador himself may not meet him. How times of have changed! The American Ambassador has gone to meet him, most recently, two days ago Baburam became the Prime Minister. 

US diplomatic cables as revealed by Wikileaks. Report by John Narayan Parajuli

US officials saw Maoist Vice Chairman Baburam Bhattarai (who is not the Priem Minister of Nepal) as the party’s “most authoritative wordsmith,” and took serious note of both his aboveground appearance in 2003 and the missive he sent to the US embassy requesting a meeting the same year.

Bhattarai’s movement and remarks appeared to be closely monitored by the US embassy, especially after his arrival in the Capital on March 28, 2003 for talks with the Sher Bahadur Deuba government. This was the first time Bhattarai emerged in the Capital in full public view, since the beginning of the insurgency in 1996.

“Since his return to the capital March 28, Maoist ideologue and second-ranking leader Baburam Bhattarai has conducted a media blitz….,” then the US ambassador to Nepal Michael Malinowsky wrote in an unclassified diplomatic cable sent on March 31, 2003-and released by WikiLeaks on August 26, 2011

“In his appearances so far, Bhattarai has castigated the Government for alleged ceasefire violations, emphasized that the Maoists have not given up on their goal of a republic, pressed the demand for a constituent assembly, and criticized the US for “interfering” in Nepal’s internal affairs,” the cable further said.

On March 30, Bhattarai declared his interest to meet with the US, Indian, Chinese, British and EU “missions” representatives in Kathmandu, while at the same time warning foreign countries not interfere in Nepal’s internal matters. The US ambassador Malinowsky noted that the US embassy had not been approached about the meeting.

But five days later, on April 4, Malinowsky dispatched another cabled to the State Department confirming receipt of a letter from Bhattarai requesting a meeting with ambassador’s representative.

“Their willingness to meet with the Ambassador’s ‘representative’ may suggest that they realize the request is unlikely to be granted at the level desired,” Malinowsky wrote adding that the embassy is “reviewing its response to the (Bhattarai’s) letter…… and in coordination with the British and Indian Embassies, which have received similar overtures.”

In the letter, Bhattarai had listed “five policy commitments” to foster better understanding in relation to the “context of the proposed meeting”-including commitment to the negotiations and ceasefire, to “a multiparty political system and “real democracy, and to  a “mutually beneficial relations with all countries, “especially India and China.”

Bhattarai also sought assistance and understanding from the international community in making their demand of a Constituent Assembly a reality-arguing that the idea had an” overwhelming support.” “In his remarks to members of the foreign and domestic press corps on March 30, Bhattarai was quoted as claiming that the Maoists had made a number of significant compromises on their original demands and called on the King to show similar “flexibility.”  When pressed to define the extent of such flexibility, Bhattarai reportedly suggested that the King could abdicate his throne,” the March 31cable reported.

The cable also observed that Bhattarai’s appearance in Kathmandu indicated that the Maoists were attaching a great deal of importance to the negotiations. For dispatches sent at a time when US saw the Maoists through ideological lenses, there is a marked absence of vicious denouncement of the outfit in the official missive. The US State Department formally added them in the Terrorist Exclusion List a year later, on May 1, 2004.

Allegations of cronyism

A November 28, 2008 cable highlights “cronyism” in the Dahal-led government. Political appointments that the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) and its coalition partners have made to offices in the Government of Nepal have frequently been based on party and family connections rather than the expertise of the candidates, the cable observes. “This follows the standard set by every government preceding the Maoists.” The cable lists the names of family and friends of both Dahal and Bhattarai who were appointed to government jobs. Though the embassy officials appear to credit the Maoists for opening the “doors to inclusiveness in the selection process,” embassy officials seemed concerned that the Maoist party “appears to be settling into the political status quo”-providing weapons to their detractors.

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