Another Prachanda-favourite lands in Australia as the head of Nepal mission

Mahesh Raj Dahal
Durapada Sapkota, Chargé d’Affaires at the Canberra-based Nepal mission, is seen welcoming the new ambassador in this Facebook photo I Source: Embassy of Nepal

11 November 2019 I Embassy of Nepal has finally welcomed its new head of mission after the position fell vacant following an early and rather embroiled departure of former ambassador Lucky Sherpa.

Half a dozen pictures on the mission’s Facebook page show “ambassador-designate” Mahesh Raj Dahal is already down under and ready to take on the role which some diaspora leaders fear is not going to be an easy task because of the recent “gap” in diplomatic relations between Australia and Nepal, the latter being the third most important nation when it comes to the $34 billion international education industry.

“H. E. Mr. Dahal also had an introductory meeting with Ms. Kate Logan, Chief of Protocol of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade of Australia at her office today,” the embassy’s Facebook status reads.

Mr Dahal is due to present his diplomatic credentials to Governor-General David Hurley later in the week, it is understood.

President Bidya Devi Bhandari had appointed Mr Dahal as Nepal’s envoy to Australia on October 15 following recommendation of the Council of Ministers.

As was the previous ambassador, Mr Dahal is a close confidante of Nepal Communist Party heavyweight Pushpa Kamal Dahal alias Prachanda. He is “a close relative” of the former guerilla leader, a Kathmandu newspaper recently reported.

“He was not chosen because he had diplomatic expertise or any proven track record in the field. He was chosen solely because he had close ties with the ruling leader,” rues Bikram Timilsina, a PhD Candidate at Griffith University’s School of Government and International Relations. “That is why there is less ground to hope much at this stage. He is actually the continuation of Nepali political actors’ tendency to appoint ambassadors based NOT on who is the best candidate for the post, but rather on their personal ties or benefits,” the Brisbane-based PhD candidate said. 

“However, it does not mean that he will definitely fail. His performance will tell the rest in coming days,” Mr Timilsina, a Nepali citizen himself and a keen student of international relations, further added.

Similar is the view of Dr Bharat Raj Poudel, a Nepali media expert based in Brisbane. “It is too early to comment but the community certainly hopes that the new ambassador will fill the diplomatic vacuum created by the earlier dramas involving the Nepalese embassy in Canberra,” Dr Poudel told southasia.com.au.

He said the community leaders will be watching how the new ambassador coordinates both with the Nepalese diaspora and the Australian authority to recover the lost “image”.

Dr Poudel said Nepal was “very behind in expediting economic opportunities and exploring economic diplomacy”.

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