After Nepalese Communist Party co-chairman PK Dahal’s dramatic stand down during a political duel last week with Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli, the stage is now set for a potential cabinet reshuffle in the Himalayan Republic after the standing party committee meets on July 28. It is the distribution of cabinet berths to various NCP groups that will determine policy ahead.
Although it is known that the morning meeting between co-chair Oli, Dahal and Madhav Nepal on 15 July was acrimonious, to say the least, it is still not clear who made it possible to stand down from Dahal after lunch with the Nepalese PM on the same day and at what cost.
It was only after this crucial lunch meeting with two associates of the two leaders negotiating on the sidelines that Oli refused to leave either the PM post or the party post, and Dahal stopped by saying that he was opposed to the party’s division. Oli had a walkover last week in the duel, and Dahal is now looking for more cabinet seats to maintain his political clout.
Chinese Ambassador to Nepal, Hou Yonqi, is preparing for another political battle in an uncertain Nepal. “We don’t know whether it was the incentive or the threat of vulnerabilities that settled the round last week. But what is certainly known is that the Chinese had a major role to play in avoiding the bust, “said a Western diplomat based in Kathmandu.
Although politics in Nepal continues to be fluid and uncertain, Hindustan Times explored the background of Ambassador Hou, who is at the centre-stage of the political games in the Republic.
Born in Shanxi province in March 1970, Hou is a master of arts and holds a major in the Urdu language from Peking University, and is fluent in Hindustani language. While many assume that she has a PLA Intelligence background as she was Director, Department of External Security Affairs, and Ministry of Foreign Affairs in 2012-2013, Hou for the record is a career diplomat with a firm belief that diplomacy is war by other means.
Ambassador Hou has been a member of the Asian Department for the last 24 years since 1996 and has been one of the four Deputy Directors General of that Department since 2015-2018 before becoming a Master Manager of Nepal. Barring served as Attache in Pakistan in 1996-2001 and 2007-2009 as Consul at the Chinese Consulate in Los Angeles Hou only in the Department of Asian Affairs to date.
While Ambassador Hou has been successful in keeping the NCP flock together and orchestrating Oli’s needling of India through cartographic expansion, Beijing has not been so successful in reading the Nepalese society. Even though China has now offered to revive one of the two hydropower projects in Nepal for free, the people of the hills of Nepal are still in love.