- The Washington Times - Thursday, July 5, 2007

‘Pivotal moment’

Nepal will fall into greater violence and chaos, unless the interim government, which includes former Maoist rebels, acts quickly to establish security and democratic rights for its citizens, the U.S. ambassador to the Himalayan nation predicted in a farewell message this week.

Ambassador James F. Moriarty denounced the Maoists for failing to control a resurgence of political violence, criticized their governing partners for restricting press freedom and warned of the dangers of extremist groups among ethnic Madhesi in the southern lowlands.

“I am ending my assignment at a pivotal moment in Nepali history,” he wrote in an article published in the weekly Newsfront magazine. “Democracy and peace are within view but hinge on a constituent assembly election on November 22 that is free and fair.”

The election will select delegates to a convention to write a new constitution and decide the future of the monarchy. Widespread demonstrations last year forced King Gyanendra to renounce absolute powers.

Mr. Moriarty called on Maoist leader Pushpa Dahal, also known as Prachanda, to control the Maoist Young Communist League, blamed for continued street violence and warned that the Madhesi extremists pose a threat to the Terai region.

“For over a decade, Nepal stagnated during the Maoist insurgency,” the ambassador said. “Supposedly peace is now here and the fighting has stopped — but only on paper. … The Terai is awash with political violence, carried out by extremist Madhesi groups that are tearing the region apart with horrific fighting and heightened ethnic tensions.”

He added, “The Maoists are in the government and claim to support the democratic process. As of today, however, their words are hollow, and everyone knows it.”

Mr. Moriarty also warned the government to protect the press, facing growing intimidation especially in Terai where “attacks on journalists … are occurring at an alarming rate.”

“Democracy in Nepal will not survive without a free media,” he said.

Mr. Moriarty will be replaced by Ambassador Nancy J. Powell, who most recently held top positions at the State Department and earlier served as ambassador to Ghana, Pakistan and Uganda.

Bolivia suspicious

The U.S. ambassador in Bolivia has promised to cooperate with any further investigation into the case of a woman detained briefly for bringing 500 bullets to the military attache at the U.S. Embassy but rejected government comments that the embassy is withholding information on the incident.

“I believe they are unacceptable and outside the intention of maintaining good relations,” Ambassador Philip Goldberg told reporters, referring to comments made by Bolivian President Evo Morales over the weekend.

Mr. Goldberg noted that Donna Thi Dinh brought the ammunition for Col. James Campbell, who wanted the .40-caliber bullets for training and target practice. She was detained overnight after authorities discovered the ammunition in her luggage when she arrived in La Paz last week. However, she was released without charge.

On Saturday, Mr. Morales told the newspaper, La Prensa, “I think we are not in the best moment in our relationship with the United States, precisely for these type of activities.”

‘Cyberabad’ mission

The United States plans to open its fourth consulate in India late next year in the high-tech city of Hyderabad.

Ambassador David C. Mulford told reporters that the United States chose the capital of the state of Andhra Pradesh because it has a “mix of all businesses like bio-technology, life sciences and information technology.” It is the home of Microsoft’s Indian headquarters.

The city got a nickname, “Cyberabad,” because of its booming technology industry.

c Call Embassy Row at 202/636-3297, fax 202/832-7278 or e-mail jmorrison@washingtontimes.com.

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