Kathmandu: The meeting of Nepal’s ruling alliance to decide on endorsing the US-funded Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) agreement remained inconclusive for a second day on Friday, as China waded into the political rift in Kathmandu over the contentious USD-500 million infrastructure grants programme.
The meeting of the top leaders of coalition partners, including Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba, CPN (Maoist Centre) Chairman Pushpakamal Dahal ‘Prachanda’ and CPN-Unified Socialist Chairman Madhav Nepal concluded after a brief discussion on the MCC issue, government spokesperson Gyanendra Bahadur Karki said.
The discussion remained inconclusive and the next meeting will be held on Sunday morning where a decision will be taken on the issue, he said.
Nepal’s political parties are sharply divided over the issue of whether to accept the US grant assistance under MCC agreement, which is under consideration in the House of Representatives.
Nepal and the US in 2017 signed the MCC agreement, meant for building Nepal’s infrastructure such as electric transmission lines and improvement of national highways.
The session of the House of Representatives on Friday also concluded without the controversial proposed MCC being tabled in Parliament due to a lack of consensus among the ruling coalition partners.
Adjourning the session, Speaker Agni Savkata informed the next meeting on the issue will be held on Sunday at 1 pm.
Although the ruling Nepali Congress (NC) has decided to endorse the MCC through Parliament, other ruling alliance members including CPN-Maoist Centre led by Prachanda and CPN-Unified Socialist led by Madhav Kumar Nepal have expressed their reservation.
Nepal’s Leftist political parties have been opposing the pact, saying it was not in national interest and that it was meant for countering China.
Meanwhile, China has expressed its displeasure over MCC, which has created a sharp political polarisation in Nepal.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin on Friday in Beijing said China is glad to see international assistance to Nepal but it should come without any political strings attached.
Such cooperation and assistance should be based on full respect and will of the Nepalese people without any political strings attached, he said, without directly naming the US.
We oppose coercive diplomacy and an agenda based on selfish interests at the expense of the sovereignty of other countries, Wang said.
Last week, the US warned Nepal to ratify the proposed grant assistance from America under MCC by February 28, saying if Kathmandu did not accept the programme, Washington would review its ties with the Himalayan nation and consider China’s interests behind its failure.
The US embassy in Kathmandu has denied media reports that America has warned Nepalese leaders over the issue of MCC.
“We are a strong supporter of free speech & public discourse based in fact, including on MCC. The right to express one’s views is intrinsic to democracy, and people must be allowed to peacefully share their views. Violence & incitement to violence are never acceptable,” US Ambassador to Nepal Randy Berry tweeted on Friday.
The Millennium Challenge Corporation is a bilateral United States foreign aid agency established by the US Congress in 2004.
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