On September 26, 2008, at the 63rd General Assembly of the United Nations, all eyes were focused on a significant figure. Among world leaders who had witnessed and interpreted the decade-long armed conflict in Nepal from various perspectives, this figure was none other than the supreme commander of the ‘guerrilla war’ that had etched its place in modern history. He represented a character who had championed a similar ideology throughout the 20th century in countries that were gradually moving away from communist regimes.
Following the establishment of the Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal, Pushpa Kamal Dahal ‘Prachanda’ and the leader of the erstwhile rebel CPN-Maoist, emerged as a prominent figure during the 63rd session of the United Nations General Assembly. Having ascended to power with a strong mandate, Prachanda became a focal point of attention.
Although many individuals listened to his speech with keen interest, it stood out for its relatively extended duration and its somewhat revolutionary nature when compared to the addresses delivered by leaders from other nations.
“It is a truly historic opportunity for me to address this assembly as the first Prime Minister of Nepal, the newest republic in the world. Before the global leaders gathered here, I wish to recount the arduous struggle that my party and I undertook with a singular aim: the emancipation of the common people, the citizens of our nation, from the shackles of age-old oppression, deprivation, marginalization, and the entrenched political systems of the past. I take pride in the political legacy that my party has contributed to Nepal’s history, serving as a positive force that brought about these transformative changes,” were the opening words of his address in the General Assembly.
In that speech, which was about half an hour long, Prachanda spoke on various topics ranging from the country and the people and Nepal’s international relations with the United Nations.
Dahal is currently the Prime Minister of the country for the third time. And, he is invited to the 78th General Assembly of the United Nations. The meeting of the United Nations General Assembly will be held from September 12 to 26. However, according to the news that has been published for a few days, it can be assumed that Prime Minister Dahal is more interested in an official visit to China than the UN General Assembly.
An important meeting took place on Thursday, indicating the desire of Prime Minister Dahal. American Ambassador to Nepal Dean R. Thompson met with Prime Minister Dahal on Thursday. The purpose of this meeting was to determine whether or not the Prime Minister will participate in the 78th session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York.
The US envoy, in addition to discussing various bilateral issues, inquired about the prime minister’s intentions for the upcoming UN General Assembly in New York. This is due to the potential overlap with his scheduled visit to China. If the prime minister travels to New York, it presents an opportunity for him to engage with top US leaders and officials on the sidelines of the event.
As the 76th session of the United Nations General Assembly is scheduled to convene from September 18 to 26, Prime Minister Dahal is also planning to journey to China during the same period, primarily to attend the inauguration of the 19th Asian Games hosted in Hangzhou City. These Games are scheduled to take place from September 23 to October 8, where he will participate as an esteemed guest.
On the other hand, the Permanent Mission of Nepal in New York had already registered the Prime Minister’s name on the list of speakers, and it was confirmed that he would address the morning meeting of the United Nations on September 22.
However, as the dates of the two events now appear to clash, the prime minister is reportedly contemplating the possibility of skipping the New York trip and, instead, attending the Asian Games in China’s Hangzhou. This decision would be made if the Nepali side cannot successfully reschedule the prime minister’s address in New York to an earlier date.
Currently, diplomatic officials are diligently preparing for Prime Minister Dahal’s address at the United Nations, followed by a direct flight to China. This information has also been confirmed by a breaking news report from Anil Giri, a senior journalist at The Kathmandu Post.
Around a month and a half ago, Prime Minister Dahal had mentioned his intention to visit both China and the US, indicating his desire to engage with both countries. However, the potential visit of Prachanda to either the US or China, has led to tensions and apprehensions in Singha Durbar. The ongoing conflict between the US and China appears to be having an impact on the decision-making process and has dampened the atmosphere surrounding the upcoming visits.
The United Nations General Assembly serves as a platform to underscore Nepal’s strategic importance, address various challenges, discuss trilateral issues, highlight Nepal’s role in peacekeeping efforts, and deliberate upon the evolving global power dynamics. Over time, numerous leaders, including almost all Prime Ministers since the monarchy’s dissolution, have delivered addresses at this assembly.
Additionally, KP Sharma Oli has addressed the General Assembly twice during his tenure as the Prime Minister of the Republic of Nepal and once while serving as the Deputy Prime Minister. If Prime Minister Dahal participates this time, he and CPN-UML Chairman Oli would achieve parity in their UN General Assembly appearances.
It remains to be seen whether Prime Minister Dahal will choose to address the United Nations General Assembly in New York or prioritize a visit to China for a sports ribbon-cutting ceremony, aligning his decision with national priorities.
(Thokotali is an editorial trademark of epardafas; a satirical and poignant presentation of news, views and analysis.)