US embassy cable - 02KATHMANDU1119

REHABILITATING A CONTROVERSIAL CROWN PRINCE

Identifier: 02KATHMANDU1119
Wikileaks: View 02KATHMANDU1119 at Wikileaks.org
Origin: Embassy Kathmandu
Created: 2002-06-06 09:36:00
Classification: CONFIDENTIAL//NOFORN
Tags: PGOV PREL PINR NP Government of Nepal
Redacted: This cable was not redacted by Wikileaks.
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 KATHMANDU 001119 
 
SIPDIS 
 
NOFORN 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 06/05/2012 
TAGS: PGOV, PREL, PINR, NP, Government of Nepal (GON) 
SUBJECT: REHABILITATING A CONTROVERSIAL CROWN PRINCE 
 
REF: 01 KATHMANDU 2115 
 
Classified By: Ambassador Michael E. Malinowski, Reasons 1.5(b),(d) 
 
1. (C/NF) Summary.  Visiting USAID consultant Dr. Scott 
Palmer briefed Nepal's Crown Prince Paras May 30 on 
similarities between Nepal's Maoists and Peru's Shining Path. 
 The meeting marked Paras' first formal contact with U.S. 
officials as Crown Prince.  (Note:  Nepal's Royal Palace has 
asked that the meeting remain a secret.  End Note.)  Paras 
mostly kept his counsel, but showed a keen interest in 
learning how Nepal might respond to the Maoist crisis.  Paras 
traveled recently to London - twice - and sat in when the 
head of British defense called on King Gyanendra, U.K. Charge 
confirmed.  A controversial figure who has been accused of 
hit-and-run murder and pistol-whipping a policeman, Paras has 
begun to step into his new public role as Crown Prince, 
inaugurating a public event June 5.  The King has given Paras 
his old job as Chairman of the King Mahendra Trust for Nature 
Conservation and entrusted a long-time confidant with 
overseeing Paras' personal and professional rehabilitation. 
Administrative changes at the Palace following the June 1, 
2001 massacre make it difficult to establish contacts with 
aides to the royals.  Paras remains widely despised, but in 
ways both public and private King Gyanendra has demonstrated 
that he intends to stand behind his son.  End Summary. 
 
USAID Consultant Briefs Crown Prince 
------------------------------------ 
 
2. (C/NF) Nepal's Crown Prince Paras met with Boston 
University Professor Scott Palmer, USAID Program Director, 
and Poloff May 30.  It was Paras' first formal encounter with 
U.S. officials as Crown Prince.  The meeting, which lasted 
just over an hour, took place at the offices of the King 
Mahendra Trust for Nature Conservation (KMTNC), a 
quasi-governmental conservation organization founded by 
Paras' father, King Gyanendra.  Paras serves as Chairman of 
the KMTNC, a post Gyanendra occupied until assuming the 
throne one year ago.  Also present were Arup Rajouria, KMTNC 
Member Secretary, and a KMTNC staffer who served as 
notetaker.  (Note:  Paras' handlers indicated that they 
wanted the meeting to remain secret.  Strictly protect.  End 
Note.) 
 
3. (C/NF) Professor Palmer, in Nepal as a consultant to USAID 
conflict resolution programs, briefed the Crown Prince on 
similarities between Maoist movements in Nepal and Peru, 
focussing on the Peruvian government response to the crisis 
and developmental efforts that contributed to the eventual 
dissolution of the Shining Path movement. 
 
Prince of Few Words 
------------------- 
 
4. (C/NF) Paras asked a few short, direct questions, but - 
whether out of insecurity or a desire not to show his hand - 
did not say very much.  He was most interested to know what 
Nepal could do in response to the Maoist crisis, and asked 
for elaboration of the similarities between the Nepalese and 
Peruvian cases.  He listened actively, nodding his head, 
expressing agreement and often filling in words during pauses 
in the Professor's presentation.  His attention started to 
fade after about forty minutes; at that point Rajouria 
launched into a monologue about KMTNC programs and their 
similarity to the development efforts in Peru described by 
Palmer.  Immediately following the meeting, Paras reportedly 
went to the Palace to meet and brief his father. 
 
Close to British, Twice in London 
--------------------------------- 
 
5. (C/NF) To date, Paras, only other official contact with 
representatives of foreign governments occurred in Britain, 
where he traveled twice this year, once on an official visit 
hosted by Prince Charles and again to attend the funeral of 
the Queen Mother.  British Charge told Poloff that the first 
visit had come at the initiative of Buckingham Palace.  The 
two royal families have close ties, the Charge explained. 
When visiting British Chief of Defense Staff General Sir 
Michael Boyce called on King Gyanendra in late May, Charge 
related, Paras had sat in on the meeting.  RNA contacts told 
the British that the event marked that first time the Crown 
Prince had joined his father at a formal call. 
 
Rehabilitating a Reckless Youth 
------------------------------- 
 
6. (SBU) Paras remains a controversial figure in Nepal 
(Reftel).  In August, 2000, he allegedly ran over and killed 
a popular musician after an argument in a bar.  Previous 
reports accuse him of running down one or two others and 
pistol-whipping a police officer.  Because of this history, 
many accused Paras of having a hand in the massacre of much 
of Nepal,s royal family on June 1, 2001.  (Note:  Paras, who 
was close to the late Crown Prince Dipendra, was present at 
the family gathering at which nine members of the royal 
family, including the King and Queen, were killed and several 
others injured.  He was not himself injured.  End Note.) 
 
7. (SBU) The Palace is trying hard to rehabilitate both 
Paras, image and his character.  After his father named him 
Crown Prince October 26, 2001, (Reftel) his first public 
appearance was at a December 6 program to mark his former 
high school's anniversary.  After that he mostly kept out of 
sight, occasionally stepping out to worship at religious 
sites.  He reportedly meets with tutors daily, though mostly 
to learn the ins-and-outs of court protocol and palace 
management. 
 
8. (SBU) A milestone occurred on June 5 Paras when 
inaugurated an event to mark "World Environment Day" at the 
convention center in Kathmandu named for his uncle, the late 
King Birendra.  Paras lit a ceremonial lamp and handed out 
awards, but did not speak.  The occasion marked Paras' first 
solo public appearance as Crown Prince and was intensely 
covered by the media.  (Note:  The previous Crown Prince, 
Dipendra, often presided at such events.  End Note.) 
 
Learning the Ropes, in Dad's Old Job 
------------------------------------ 
 
9. (C/NF) As the Chairman of the KMTNC - a position formerly 
occupied by his father, the King, who founded the trust - 
Paras devotes considerable time learning about the 
organization,s environmental and conservation work. 
Previously Paras was head of Kathmandu's Central Zoo, which 
falls under the administration of the KMTNC.  The KMTNC 
Member Secretary, Arup Rajouria, an old confidant of King 
Gyanendra, has been charged with managing Paras' professional 
development.  (Note:  Rajouria was at the Kennedy School at 
Harvard in the early 90s when Paras was attending boarding 
school in New York.  Gyanendra would order the future Crown 
Prince to travel to Cambridge on the weekends, so the 
Rajourias could watch over him.  They let him sleep on a 
fold-out bed in the living room.  End Note.)  Besides 
arranging for Paras' orientation into his new 
responsibilities, Rajouria has also pushed for Paras to move 
out into the public eye.  Rajouria was the impetus for Paras' 
participation in the June 5 environmental event.  In 
conversations with Poloff, Rajouria insists that the events 
of the past year have matured Paras, and the Crown Prince has 
become more disciplined and serious of late. 
 
New System at Palace Isolates Royals 
------------------------------------ 
 
10. (C) Much more was known about the previous Crown Prince, 
Diprendra.  His Aide-de-Camp (ADC) met frequently with 
members of the diplomatic corps, and Dipendra himself 
socialized with foreign residents.  Nepal's royals have kept 
a low profile following the June 1, 2001 royal family 
massacre, and now that Paras has become Crown Prince, he 
stays away from Kathmandu,s nightspots.  Moreover, after the 
June 1 incident the palace,s ADC system was revamped.  ADCs 
now rotate among members of the royal family, so that no 
single ADC develops too close a relationship with any single 
individual.  (Note:  Several ADCs were faulted - and 
disciplined - both for failing to prevent the June 1 massacre 
and for enabling late Crown Prince Dipendra's destructive 
behavior.  End Note.) 
 
Comment 
------- 
 
11. (C/NF) While the institution of the monarchy is deeply 
revered in Nepal, Paras himself is widely despised.  The 
Palace apparently hopes that by rehabilitating both the man 
and his image, the populace will eventually accept him as a 
royal in good standing.  Paras has begun taking a few 
tentative steps out into the public eye, but is still kept 
muzzled and away from the press.  The Palace likely took note 
of the publicity surrounding Professor Palmer's visit to 
Nepal - his meeting with the Prime Minister (which included 
top military brass) and a public speech to a foreign affairs 
organization were covered in the media.  The Palace thus 
likely saw Palmer's stealth briefing for the Crown Prince as 
a contribution to the young dauphin's education, and also as 
a way to boost his self-esteem.  Paras' road to 
rehabilitation will be long and mostly uphill. 
MALINOWSKI 

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