UN mission likely to stay on in Nepal

May 8th, 2009 - 4:12 pm ICT by IANS  

By Sudeshna Sarkar
Kathmandu, May 8 (IANS) The political wing of the UN, which made a controversial entry in Nepal two years ago to assist the peace process, is likely to get a new lease of life after its term ends in July.

The UN Mission in Nepal (UNMIN) was established in January 2007 at the insistence of the Maoist guerrillas though Nepal’s southern neighbour India had opposed the entry in the beginning.

UNMIN was asked to keep watch over the Maoists’ People’s Liberation Army (PLA) and their weapons as well as monitor the constituent assembly election.

Though the UN body was downsized after the end of the election in April 2008, it has stayed on as its presence is felt necessary till the PLA is merged with the national army and their cantonments are dismantled.

UNMIN received three extensions even though its bid to widen its mandate was turned down. India, China and Russia had successfully lobbied at the UN Security Council to stop UNMIN from getting more deeply involved in the integration of the two armies.

With UNMIN’s current term due to expire in July, the Maoist government had till recently said that the integration would be completed by mid-July, and the UN body would be asked to pack up.

However, now with the Maoist government falling on Monday and the rift between the former guerrillas and the army widening over the former guerrillas’ bid to fire the army chief, it is nearly impossible that the unification would be over by July.

On Friday, UNMIN chief Karin Landgren met caretaker Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal ‘Prachanda’ when the issue was discussed, according to Prachanda’s media advisor Om Sharma.

The Maoists, the army and Nepal’s political parties have had a blow hot, blow cold relation with UNMIN.

At some point, all three have accused the UN body of being partisan, a charge that it has steadily rejected.

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