Chinese ambassador Hou Yanqi on Thursday met Nepal Communist Party’s executive chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal ‘Prachanda’, who claims control over the ruling party after removing Prime Minister K P Sharma Oli from the posts of the party’s parliamentary leader and chair.
The meeting at Prachanda’s residence in Khumaltar - which lasted for about 30 minutes - dwelt on the contemporary political situation after the NCP split. “They discussed the issues of bilateral concern,” according to sources close to Prachanda.
Bishnu Rijal, a leader close to the Prachanda-faction, tweeted that “Ambassador of the People’s Republic of China Hou Yanqi met Chairman of the Nepal Communist Party Pushpa Kamal Dahal ‘Prachanda’ this morning. They discussed the issues of bilateral concerns.”
Hou’s meeting with Prachanda comes two days after she called on President Bidya Devi Bhandari on Tuesday at the latter's office in Sheetal Niwas.
Hou is said to have discussed the latest political development following the president’s move to dissolve the House of Representatives and announce mid-term elections, My Republica reported.
This is not the first time that the Chinese ambassador has intervened in Nepal's internal affairs at a time of crisis.
In May, Hou held separate meetings with President Bhandari, the prime minister and other senior NCP leaders, including Prachanda, when Oli was facing mounting pressure to step down.
In July, she again met a number of top leaders, including the president, prime minister, Prachanda, Madhav Kumar Nepal and Jhala Nath Khanal and Bamdev Gautam to save Oli, who is known for his pro-Beijing leanings.
A number of political party leaders had termed the Chinese envoy’s series of meetings with the ruling party leaders as interference in Nepal’s internal political affairs.
Dozens of student activists carrying placards with anti-China slogans had staged a demonstration in front of the Chinese Embassy here to protest against Hou’s interference in Nepal's internal affairs.
China's political profile in Nepal has been on the rise in the recent years with billions of dollars of investments under Beijing's multi-billion-dollar Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), including the building of the Trans-Himalayan Multi-Dimensional Connectivity Network.
Besides the investments, China's ambassador to Nepal Hou has made open efforts to garner support for Oli.
Meanwhile, the Prachanda-led faction has decided to stage nationwide protests next Tuesday to oppose the dissolution of Parliament.
It was also decided to organise a rally with the participation of the party’s Central Committee members and members of the dissolved House of Representatives from Kathmandu’s Maitighar Mandala to the Election Commission office to claim the official party recognition.
Around 315 Central Committee members and nearly 100 members of the House are expected to join the rally.
In a separate meeting of the Central Committee members close to him, Prime Minister Oli announced the removal of Prachanda from the post of the party’s Executive Chairman.
The decision comes a day after the Prachanda-led faction of the ruling party elected him as the new parliamentary leader, replacing Prime Minister Oli.
Oli was earlier removed from the post of party's chairman on Tuesday by a central committee meeting of the Prachanda-led faction, which also decided to take disciplinary action against him for dissolving the House of Representatives "unconstitutionally".
The main Opposition Nepali Congress (NC) has also announced to hold a nationwide protest against dissolution of Parliament in all 77 districts including Kathmandu on Monday.
Nepal on Sunday plunged into a political crisis after President Bidya Devi Bhandari dissolved the House of Representatives and announced dates for mid-term elections at the recommendation of Prime Minister Oli, sparking protests from a section of the ruling party and various opposition parties, including Nepali Congress.
The move came after the intra-party feud reached a climax in the ruling party which has been witnessing months-long power tussle between two factions, one led by 68-year-oli Oli and another led by 66-year-old Prachanda.
The Supreme Court on Wednesday forwarded all writ petitions challenging Prime Minister Oli's move to abruptly dissolve the Parliament to a Constitutional bench.
The ruling party has now been virtually divided more than two years after it was formed following the merger of CPN-UML led by Oli and CPN-Maoist Centre led by Prachanda in May 2018.
Both factions of the party have intensified efforts to retain official party recognition along with the election symbol. The two factions are now busy making strategies to wrest control of the party.