By Our Reporter
At a time when the ruling Nepal Communist Party (NCP) is divided on ratification of the Millennium Challenge Cooperation, a US$ 500 million American grant project for infrastructural development of the country, the Americans have accelerated pressure on the ruling party leaders to rectify the MCC as early as possible.
American Ambassador Randy Berry is applying influence and mounting pressure on high ranking officials of Nepal along with Deputy Vice-president of MCC Jonathan Brooks, who was on an official visit to Nepal last week.
Ambassador Berry and Vice-president Brooks have taken stock of the parliamentary ratification and communicated to the Nepali side that amendments to the MCC agreement was not possible at this point of time since the agreement was signed in September 2017.
Berry and Brooks have held series of meetings with the Prime Minister, Minister for foreign Affairs and Finance Minister. They are scheduled to meet top leaders of the ruling NCP including Madhav Kumar Nepal and JN Khanal.
A section of the ruling Nepal Communist Party (NCP) has taken a strong stance against endorsing the agreement in its present form. The NCP has formed a study panel to recommend on the MCC, spearheaded by former Prime Minister JN Khanal. NCP has also stated that it would decide on it only after the study team led by Khanal submits its report.
NCP’s senior leaders Pushpakamal Dahal and JN Khanal are of the view that MCC cannot be accepted at the present form. Some of the conditions have to be changed before adoption of the grant project. However, they have given words to the American officials that they would endorse MCC. The present stance of the NCP leaders seems to be a face saving measure.
Meanwhile, American officials have made clear that there will be no change in terms and conditions stated in the agreement.
Perhaps, this is the first time that the American grant project has faced such a controversy. A section of NCP leaders believe that MCC is against Nepal’s sovereignty and they are publicly saying that the American army will enter through the project.
Nepal is going to handover its ownership to the Americans through this project, they have described.
In the meantime, Nepali academicians and intellectuals are also divided on accepting the MCC grant. Expressing their remarks in social networks such as Face Book and Twitter, a section of Nepali academicians say that Nepal should not exchange its sovereignty just for US$ 500 million, which is less than the Ncell revenue subjected to be paid to the Nepal government. They have suggested to collect the government revenue from Ncell rather than accepting the American grant.
Communist leaders of the ruling party are less bothered about diplomatic norms and values. They even don’t know how to deal with the diplomatic issues affecting bilateral relations between the two friendly nations. Diplomatic observers remark that the communist leaders should have internally discussed about the issue instead of making it public.
Nevertheless, another section of diplomatic observers believe that this is an example of weak American diplomacy as well.