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UN under fire in Nepal, Sri Lanka
Kathmandu, Jul 10 (IANS):
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Published on 11 Jul. 2010 12:24 AM IST
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After Sri Lanka, where a minister is leading protests against alleged UN interference, the world body is now under fire in Nepal, where the prime minister has accused it of trying to derail the Himalayan republic’s fragile peace process.
An unusually strong outburst came from Nepal’s caretaker Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal, who objected to an unsolicited plan drawn up by the UN political unit in Nepal.
The plan deals with the contentious issue of what to do with over 19,000 combatants of the Maoist party’s guerrilla army who are currently under the supervision of the UN unit, known as the UN Mission in Nepal (UNMIN).
UNMIN has formulated an ambitious plan to decide the fate of the fighters within 60 weeks and reportedly put its plan before the ruling parties and the opposition last month.
The 60-week period comes ahead of the Maoists formulating their own plan for the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) soldiers which will be tabled at a meeting of the three major parties Saturday. The PLA remains the main hurdle to Nepal’s peace process.
While the ruling parties want the parallel army to be disbanded, the Maoists are seeking to stall the process, demanding the en masse induction of the guerrillas in the army despite Maoist chief Prachanda having agreed before the political leaders that about 5,000-7,000 fighters should be hired in the state army.
The protracted stalemate over the PLA has derailed the promulgation of a new constitution and is now obstructing the formation of a new government even 10 days after the premier’s resignation. “When only 11 months are left to write the new constitution, UNMIN has suggested a 14-month time-table for the integration and rehabilitation of the Maoist combatants,” a fuming Nepal said, according to the official media Saturday.
“This is a ploy to derail the process of writing the new statute,” he said.
The prime minister also said the country “did not need these experiences, which have failed to work in other countries”. Without naming UNMIN, Nepal said outsiders should not offer unsolicited suggestions.
“They should do it when we ask them,” he said. “I urge outsiders, who are not related to the statute-writing process, to refrain from showing unnecessary concern in the issue.”
Though the UN was called in 2006 to assist the peace process in Nepal on the insistence of the Maoists, Nepal’s ruling parties remain wary of the world body, accusing it of taking the side of the Maoists.
While the government has been seeking to minimise the UN’s role in Nepal and has limited the mandate of the UN human rights agency, the Maoists are now pushing for a further two-month extension for UNMIN.
Earlier, some UN officials in Nepal were declared persona non grata by India after it was revealed they had sought tourist visas to go to India to hold clandestine talks with armed groups from Nepal.
The European Union and the US have been pressuring the Nepal government for a bigger and longer role for the UN, especially the UN rights agency.
Nepal’s anger with the UN comes even as its South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) neighbour Sri Lanka is protesting against the formation of a panel by the UN to probe war crimes in the island nation, calling it a violation of its sovereignty.

 
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