Nepal Maoists threaten to move court over UNBy Sudeshna Sarkar, IANS
Sunday, January 2, 2011
KATHMANDU - With the life of the UN agency directly involved in Nepal’s peace process ending in 12 days time and the caretaker government not ready to seek another extension for the world body, the opposition Maoist party has threatened to move court to force the ruling alliance change its mind.
“Centrist forces are plotting to make the UN Mission in Nepal (UNMIN) leave before its entire mission is over,” Maoist lawmaker and former deputy chief of the party’s guerrilla army, Barshaman Pun Ananta, told the party mouthpiece Janadisha daily Monday.
“It is a conspiracy to dissolve parliament and let dictatorial forces take over. Our party will never support such a move,” the formerly underground leader said.
The lawmaker warned that if UNMIN - that began supervising the arms and combatants of the Maoists’ People’s Liberation Army (PLA) from 2007 - was not asked to stay after its mandate ended Jan 15, his party would take legal action to force an extension.
The former guerrillas, who ended a 10-year armed insurrection in 2006 and agreed to dissolve the PLA, have failed to decide the fate of their nearly 20,000 fighters even over four years after the peace accord.
Though the pact had pledged to merge the PLA with the national army within six months, the plan failed after the army and some of the ruling parties opposed the union. The Maoists’ case weakened further after the exposure that their chief Pushpa Kamal Dahal Prachanda had deliberately inflated the size of the PLA before UNMIN in order to increase his party’s grip on the national army.
Now the Maoists are loath to demobilise the fighters, using them as a bargaining chip to regain power, which they lost two years ago when their government collapsed after trying to sack the army chief.
The existence of the Maoists’ parallel army remains a major block for the flagging peace process that last year failed its May deadline for unveiling a new constitution, regarded as the major target of the peace process.
It could also derail the extended deadline for the constitution - May 28, 2011 - since the ruling parties have refused to share power with the Maoists till the PLA camps are emptied.
UNMIN’s term in Nepal was extended seven times as the Maoists hold its role crucial for the integration of the PLA with the Nepal Army.
However, the ruling parties feel the former guerrillas are using the world body as a cat’s paw to prolong the life of their parallel army and the government last week wrote to the UN Security Council that they had formed a special committee to take charge once UNMIN exited.
Last week, the Maoists too wrote to the Security Council, asking for UNMIN’s term to be extended till May 28.
In the past, the Security Council made it clear that it would not heed any request till it was endorsed by both the ruling parties as well as the Maoists.
Ananta said UNMIN’s role could also be taken over by any other UN agency in Nepal.
With India becoming a member of the Security Council from Saturday, all eyes are now on the world body to see how it reacts.
(Sudeshna Sarkar can be contacted at email@example.com)