Despite fragility of Nepal's peace process, UN envoy voices cautious optimism

14:39, January 16, 2010      

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Although Nepal's four-year-old peace process that ended a 10-year war between the government and guerrillas fragile and concerns that it could derail are real, the recent urgency shown by the parties in focusing on peace-related issues gives some grounds for hope, the top United Nations official there said here Friday.

"Although the hour is late, the recent actions by the government and the parties, if followed through with vigor, have the potential to usher in constructive actions for the next stage of Nepal's democratic transition," UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon's Special Representative Karin Landgren told the Security Council.

She cited the lifting three weeks ago by the Unified Communist Party of Nepal-Maoist (UCPN-M) of its blockade of Parliament, the establishment last week by the three major parties -- Nepali Congress, Communist Party of Nepal-Unified Marxist-Leninist (UML) and UCPN-M -- of a high-level mechanism to resolve outstanding issues, notably the integration and rehabilitation of guerrilla troops, and the long-awaited discharge of 4,000 mainly underage fighters.

In addition, the special committee set up to address the supervision, integration and rehabilitation of over 19,000 Maoist soldiers has resumed meetings and is considering a timetable for the proper integration of an agreed number into the security forces and the re-absorption of the others into society. Other issues to resolve include the scope of presidential authority that replaced the monarchy.

"Encouraging as recent developments have been, it is imperative to follow through and resolve the outstanding main tasks in the peace process," Landgren said. "Until that happens, the peace process will remain at risk."

Under the peace process a new constitution is scheduled to be promulgated by May 28, 2010 and she recommended that the Security Council agree to the government's request to extend the UN Mission in Nepal (UNMIN) for another three months and three weeks, after the expiration of its current mandate on Jan. 23.

UNMIN was set up at the request of the government in 2007 to monitor the management of arms and armed personnel of the former Royal Nepal Army and its foe, the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist), which is now UCPN-M. It has an authorized strength of 278 personnel. As of December, 31 percent of its 192 civilian personnel were women as were five of the 72 arms monitors.

"The parties have recently sought greater common ground, giving rise to cautious optimism that progress can be made in the peace process," Landgren said. "There are positions on the political left and right alike, however, arguing against the merits of peaceful resolution and adherence to the original agreements, and some speak of a fresh confrontation as being inevitable."

"Fears have not fully receded that the Maoists have reneged on their acceptance of the democratic principles laid down in the peace agreements, and that the government lacks sincerity in implementing critical reforms," she said.

In a report released earlier this week, Ban warned that Nepal's peace process remained largely stalled and the major disagreements "remain unresolved, increasing the risk of its collapse."

Source: Xinhua
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