UN restive at Nepal impasse

July 27th, 2010 - 5:12 pm ICT by IANS  

By Sudeshna Sarkar
Kathmandu, July 27 (IANS) The failure of Nepal’s major political parties to form a new government more than a month after the prime minister quit has made the UN restive, especially as the term of its political unit ends in September.

Karin Landgren, chief of the UN Mission in Nepal (UNMIN), the political unit of the world body that was invited almost four years ago to help with the peace process, Tuesday met one of her sternest critics, the Nepali Congress (NC) party that has vowed not to give any further extension to UNMIN when its term ends Sep 15.

Landgren held talks with Sushil Koirala, acting chief of the NC, to discuss the stalemate in Nepal as well as the dismantling of the Maoists’ parallel army.

Nearly 20,000 soldiers of the Maoists’ People’s Liberation Army (PLA) have been left in the lurch with the ruling parties refusing to hire them in the national army and the Maoists pressing to have the refusal overturned.

UNMIN triggered a controversy recently after it formulated a plan to rehabilitate the PLA in 60 weeks, which was condemned by both the NC and Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal as exceeding its authority.

Nepal even accused UNMIN of trying to scuttle the peace process and the drafting of a new constitution.

Landgren Tuesday defended the proposal, saying it was not a “blue-print” intended to prolong UNMIN’s tenure in Nepal.

“The fact is that integration and rehabilitation will take time,” she said. “… from the physical regrouping of Maoist army personnel to the detailed planning of integration, the logistics, staffing, coordination and funding… It is for the parties to consider whether faster implementation is humanly and financially possible.”

It is certain that the PLA can’t be discharged by Sep 15, when UNMIN’s mandate to monitor the PLA camps ends.

The work to find other jobs or vocations for the PLA has grounded to a halt as the Maoists and the NC, the two largest parties in parliament, remain deadlocked over choosing a new prime minister.

Maoist supremo and PLA chief Pushpa Kamal Dahal Prachanda is contending for the post along with NC leader Ram Chandra Poudel.

Though Nepal’s parliament held two rounds of vote this month to elect a new prime minister, neither of the candidates could muster simple majority and form the new government.

A third round of voting, scheduled July 30, is also expected to end in a fiasco as the two other major parties, that together account for nearly 200 of the 599 MPs, could once again abstain from voting as they did earlier.

The Communist Party of Nepal-Unified Marxist Leninist, which backed out of the race, is now trying to extract revenge by sitting in abstention.

A bloc of four parties from the Terai plains can help the Maoists acquire simple majority. However, they have laid down conditions that are too controversial and difficult to meet.

(Sudeshna Sarkar can be contacted at sudeshna.s@ians.in)

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