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King Gyanendra visit to Africa

 

 

King’s visit to Tunis, Africa

 

After Dhaka, Riyadh, and Saudi Arab the king was seen in Tunis, capital of Tunisia. But the country has been kept in dark about his destinations. The trip—a mixture of official and pleasure-nevertheless is mired in mystery, that does not quite be hove the head of the government in a democracy.

 

Although, not very significant, the trip to Tunisia---to participate in the world conference on information and technology--after Dhaka would be considered an official one. What has become a big controversy is the expenses involved—a whopping 200 million rupees—and his borrowing a Boeing 757 aircraft from the aircraft starved Royal Nepal Airlines for the entire 20 days that cost the millions to the Corporation.

 

 The schedule of three weeks long Royal visit was made known to certain government departments only 6 days before the date of departure, a violation of the convention which would require such notification at least two weeks in advance. Even the revelation through a press note on November 6, 2005 about the visits was partial as it only mentioned about his visit to Dhaka , Tunisia, Burundi and 'few African countries' for the SAARC summit, and then to Tunisia. Five days late, another press release of the Foreign Ministry listed Saudi Arab Tanzania, Kenya, South Africa and Egypt as other destinations along the royal route. But the press release had not any justification or clarification about the purpose of the visit.

 

There were some speculations that given his love for nature conservation, the king was going to go to certain national parks, wildlife conservation centers and other conservation areas. Others who know the king more intimately have guessed that it is a pleasure trip which include holidaying and hunting in the safari. Strings of speculations do not end here. Yet others say, the king is basically in the southern hemisphere to avoid adverse planetary effects as the period between November 22 to Nov 30 may bring misfortune to the country.

 

 In the first phase of Royal visit (Dhaka-Tunisia), King had a team of 65 members including 10 journalists who have supported the royal takeover. Foreign minister Ramesh Nath Pandey was in the company of King in Dhaka SAARC summit where as Communication minister Tanka Dhakal and vice president of information technology commission and an extra-constitutional Royal advisor Sharad Chandra Shah joined the monarch in Tunisia.

 

According to a high level source in the Finance Ministry, cabinet has allocated 2.2 millions US dollar and an additional 2 hundreds 20 thousands dollar in two different headings of budget for the Royal trip. More than 7 hundreds thousand dollars had been spent for the King's visit to Jakarta and Boao before a few months in April.

 

The public is in dark as to why the King visited the countries without any political, economic, cultural and trade relationship. What is Nepal going to gain by promoting good relationship with those African countries living in abject poverty?

According to an analysis by spokesperson of Nepali Congress, Dr. Ram Saran Mahat, May be the king wants to rope in new supporters as he has been discarded by the traditional friends like India, US, UK and the European Union. That could also be a way to relax as the isolation must have been so painful for the king. No one knows, Mahat said, if the king had any official invitation from these countries for a visit. But it was certainly not appropriate on his part to be away from the country in conflict for such a long time. That only shows the king is not serious about solving the problem here.

 

Nepal's economic relation with those African countries  (Rs in thousand)

Fiscal Year

1999/00

2000/01

2001/02

2002/03

2003/04

County

Export

Import

Export

Import

Export

Import

Export

Import

Export

Import

Burundi

    -

    -

    -

   -

    -

   -

   -

    -

    -

   -

Egypt

   228

4899

1445

11756

10

13692

99

2064

187

5719

Kenya

31

0

0

2383

4830

2587

3162

1

334

1668

South Africa

5053

73655

8776

40021

10098

90889

7393

117007

16355

321810

Tanzania

0

0

0

5264

283

0

0

0

15

0

Tunisia

0

0

10

0

0

7914

0

0

0

0

 

 

Source: Himal, November 16-30, 2005

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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