Sponsoring foreign junkets for Nepali politicians raises serious questions on the accountability of donors

KATHMANDU, MAR 16 –

Sponsoring foreign junkets for Nepali politicians when the country is struggling to end a deadlock over the peace and constitution making processes raises serious questions on the accountability of donors, analysts said. They said it is an example of donors influencing the national agenda.

Key leaders of major parties were set to go to Switzerland despite the looming May 27 deadline. They were, however, forced to cancel the trip following widespread criticism over its timing. The Swiss government had funded a meeting of the 16 leaders at a programme being organised by Nepal Transition to Peace through March 17-25.

A civil society personality, Devendra Raj Pandey, who has authored a book on the role donors in the development of the country, criticised the plan. “Donor agencies point fingers at leaders for being incompetent. But why are they flying out the same incapable politicians on junkets at this critical juncture?” he questioned.

“The results of such visits will be zero,” he said, adding that politicians should instead focus on resolving differences back home.

The sponsors were, however, quick to defend the trip. Swiss Ambassador to Nepal Thomas Gass said he respects the parties’ decision. Talking to the Post, he said the trip would have helped the parties to “informally come up with solutions that might pave way for compromises.”

Political analyst Lok Raj Baral, however, said the “incident” was a signal of donors trying to micro-manage Nepal’s affairs. “The donors have the power to take heavyweights on foreign trips. They seem to have penetrated even the highest political level, including the Prime Minister’s Office and the Constituent Assembly,” he said. by PHANINDRA DAHAL from ekantipur

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