National

Former prime ministers ditch Asia Pacific Summit

- TIKA R PRADHAN, Kathmandu

Dec 2, 2018-

Former prime ministers did not attend the inaugural session of the Asia Pacific Summit, an event organised by the Universal Peace Federation, on Saturday.

Even as the KP Oli government went all out to host the summit, former prime ministers Pushpa Kamal Dahal, Sher Bahadur Deuba, Jhala Nath Khanal, and Baburam Bhattarai and former chairman of the council of ministers Khilraj Regmi remained absent as the four-day summit jointly organised by the controversial South Korea-based non-government organisation officially kicked off on Saturday.

However, former PM and ruling party leader Madhav Kumar Nepal was seen at the opening ceremony. Speaker Krishna Bahadur Mahara chaired a session related to the summit on Saturday afternoon. Even as Nepal Communist Party (NCP) Co-chair Dahal did not attend the summit on Saturday, he is scheduled to chair the closing ceremony on Sunday.

Amid widespread criticism, a section of leaders from the ruling NCP refrained from the summit. NCP leaders participating in the summit were mostly from the erstwhile CPN-UML while very few from the former CPN (Maoist Centre) were seen at the Hotel Hyatt Regency where the conference is going on.

Deputy Prime Minister Ishwar Pokhrel, Home Minister Ram Bahadur Thapa and senior government officials attended the summit. The South Korean organisation has been embroiled in controversies for promoting Christianity in Nepal. Several Nepali leaders and members of parliament have visited South Korea at its invitation in the past.

NC Joint-secretary Prakash Sharan Mahat said that party President Deuba did not attend the summit even though he was invited. 

“The party has issued a circular to its leaders not to attend the summit,” said Mahat.

“The state should not engage in promoting one particular religion and should not tie up with such a controversial organisation.”

The party on November 24 officially criticised the government for co-hosting the summit stating that the decision of patronising an event that preaches a particular religion violates the spirit of the constitution.

Following a huge uproar, the organisers had backtracked, changing their statement on the federation’s website, calling the Nepal government a “supporter” of the summit.

However, the state machinery has been used for the summit with more than 3,500 personnel from the Nepal Army, Nepal Police, Armed Police Force and the National Intelligence Department deployed for security.

The government briefly arrested 46 leaders of the Rastriya Prajatantra Party-Prajatantrik, who demonstrated against the summit on Saturday. They included former minister and RPP-P central member Biraj Bista.

 

Published: 02-12-2018 07:15

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