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UN disappointed with Nepal’s peace process
KATHMANDU, MAR 11 (Agencies):
Published on 11 Mar. 2010 11:55 PM IST
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On a three-day visit to assess the blocked peace process in Nepal, the UN under-secretary-general for political affairs, B Lynn Pascoe, said in Kathmandu on Thursday that the international community was “disappointed” and “deeply concerned”. “Nepal’s opportunity for a durable and transformative peace could slip away unless actions are taken urgently to restore the momentum,” the envoy warned, adding that even four years after the Maoist insurgency ended, Nepal still had two armies, and no agreed strategy for what to do about this. “Thousands of former Maoists combatants remain in camps that were intended to last only a few months,” Pascoe said. “The question of the future of the two armies should not remain unresolved any longer. We encourage leaders to engage in serious, good-faith discussions leading to agreements and actions.” Concerned at Nepal’s major parties failing to meet the deadlines for drafting a new constitution by May, Pascoe said while the UN advocated that every effort be made to accelerate progress, yet, in case the task was not complete by the deadline, inclusive discussions were needed to prepare a backup plan through dialogue and consensus. The visit of the top UN official comes at a time when there is a row between the government and the UNMIN over the information on the status of Maoist combatants in the UN-monitored cantonments, with the UN declining to provide the numbers despite the government’s repeated requests. Pascoe also defended the UN’s political wing, the UN Mission in Nepal (UNMIN) that has fallen foul of the new coalition government. UNMIN, mandated to supervise the cantonments of the Maoists’ People’s Liberation Army (PLA), was recently asked by the Peace and Reconstruction Minister, Rakom Chemjong, to provide details of how many PLS fighters were actually inside the cantonments. The UN agency refused politely, saying it would be a violation of the peace pact which stipulates that such information should come from the Maoists themselves. “UNMIN, contrary to popular misconception, has been given no mandate or capacity to police the cantonments,” the UN envoy said. “Its access to information about the status of the two armies or their numbers depends entirely on their voluntary cooperation. The information UNMIN holds as a result of the registration process in the cantonments is subject to confidentiality agreements that were accepted by both sides in the peace process. Honouring that commitment is essential to our impartiality.” The UN, he said, was dismayed that some “commentators” were trying to hold UNMIN responsible for “situations and shortcomings that by the very insistence of the parties themselves, the mission has little or no capacity to control”. “This is absurd and should come to an end,” he said “UNMIN is here to help. It should not take the blame for those who fail to shoulder their responsibilities to make the peace process work.”

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