UN asks Nepal to start planning Maoist army discharge

Saturday, December 4, 2010

KATHMANDU - With only six weeks left for the UN to pull out of Nepal’s becalmed peace process, the world body Saturday urged the major political parties to work out the details for the discharge of the opposition Maoists’ guerrilla army, that remains the major stumbling block to the process.

The UN Undersecretary-General for Political Affairs, B. Lynn Pascoe, who arrived in Nepal Friday to assess the country’s progress in settling the fate of the nearly 20,000 guerrilla fighters in the Maoists’ People’s Liberation Army (PLA), warned that the nascent republic was going into a critical period and, therefore, it was important that the key actors moved rapidly.

“It is very essential that the details of the merging be worked out,” Pascoe said, winding up his visit after consultations with ministers, political leaders and foreign envoys, including the Indian and Chinese ambassadors to Nepal.

Pascoe was referring to the agreement signed between Nepal’s major parties and the Maoists that the PLA would be discharged and either integrated with the state army or rehabilitated, a pact that now, however, is being opposed by the Maoists.

The former guerrillas are demanding that they be allowed to form the new government before they demobilise the PLA.

They are also demanding that half of the nearly 20,000 fighters be inducted in the army or other state security forces, a demand that is being resisted by the ruling parties after the revelation that Maoist chief Pushpa Kamal Dahal Prachanda wilfully inflated the strength of his guerrilla fighters.

Pascoe said though there were just 42 days left before the UN agency monitoring the PLA - the UN Mission in Nepal (UNMIN) - begins exiting from Jan 15, it was possible to resolve the contentious issues. However, he underlined that all the parties have to work together and make compromises to make that happen.

Pascoe virtually ruled out any further extensions for UNMIN, saying that the UN Security Council in September had agreed that it would be the supervising body’s last extension. While the Nepal government is mulling setting up another supervisory body to succeed UNMIN after Jan 15, the UN envoy emphasised that it would be better if the peace process was wrapped up by Jan 15.

Though UNMIN exits Nepal next month, the UN however will not abandon Nepal and its other agencies will work in close cooperation, Pascoe said.

Also, for three more years, Nepal will remain on the UN watch list to check which way the peace process is heading.

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