Nepal extends UN peace monitors’ term yet again (Lead)

December 14th, 2008 - 5:34 pm ICT by IANS  

Kathmandu, Dec 14 (IANS) Having seen the end of a 10-year communist insurgency but yet to usher in stability and a new pro-people constitution, the fledgling Himalayan republic of Nepal has decided to extend the term of the UN agency monitoring the delicate peace process despite growing criticism of the world body by its main opposition party.The UN Mission in Nepal (UNMIN), which began work in Nepal in January 2007 to oversee the arms and combatants of the Maoists’ guerrilla army, the People’s Liberation Army (PLA), has been given a six-month extension ahead of the end of its tenure, which was to have expired on Jan 23, 2009.

Nepal’s Maoist Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal Prachanda said he had informed President Dr Ram Baran Yadav about the step taken by the government Friday.

Nepal’s permanent representative to the UN Madhu Raman Acharya presented the government letter seeking yet another extension for UNMIN to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in New York Friday.

This is the third extension for the UN body as Nepal failed to hold its critical constituent assembly election in time, free child soldiers from PLA cantonments and begin the tough job of integrating the guerrillas with the state army.

With the new lease of life, UNMIN will complete two years in January 2009 and stay on for at least another six months.

The political wing of the UN first came in for fierce criticism from Nepal’s neighbours India and China, which accused it of trying to widen its scope of activities and interfering in the republic’s murky politics.

It also faced questions after the revelation that the Maoists had abducted a local trader and beaten him to death inside a PLA cantonment despite the cantonments remaining under constant UNMIN surveillance.

Recently, Nepal’s main opposition party, former prime minister Girija Prasad Koirala’s Nepali Congress, began flaying the agency, saying it was trying to please the ruling Maoist party and was turning a blind eye to the violence committed by Maoist cadres.

As Nepal’s Maoist government struggled to begin the arduous task of merging the two parallel armies, UNMIN has been expressing a desire to help in the process.

Though the proposal was rejected by the Prachanda government so far, Britain and Denmark recently sent envoys to Nepal who reiterated the UN offer to help.

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