UN to exit Nepal peace process July 23May 17th, 2008 - 6:09 pm ICT by admin
By Sudeshna Sarkar
Kathmandu, May 17 (IANS) The UN agency that was invited by Nepal’s major political parties last year to assist in the critical peace negotiations will exit the Himalayan nation July 23 after its contract ends, as it has no hope of getting an extension, according to a report tabled before the UN Security Council. The UN Mission in Nepal (UNMIN), which raked up several controversies by its lavish style of functioning and allegedly exceeding its mandate, will be gradually phased out after its repeated lobbying with the Nepal government for an enhanced role in Nepal’s security sector reforms and assistance in the integration of the Maoists’ guerrilla army with the state army was rejected, especially by the Maoists.
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon Friday tabled a report on the UN assistance in Nepal’s peace process before the Security Council in New York. In the report, made public in Nepal Saturday, the UN chief accepted the looming possibility that neither UNMIN’s mandate nor tenure would be extended despite vigorous lobbying by his special representative in Nepal, Ian Martin.
“I do not anticipate a further extension of the mandate of UNMIN,” Ban said. “But the United Nations stands ready to provide continuing support for the completion and consolidation of the peace process and for the long-term development of Nepal.”
He added that Martin and Robert Piper, the UN Development Project chief in Nepal, would be in discussion with the new government once it is formed regarding whatever assistance it may request.
UNMIN’s tenure ends July 23.
There were indications that it would not be given additional role or time after it ruffled the feathers of the Maoists during the verification of their guerrilla soldiers.
It also fell foul of Nepal’s major trade partner and neighbour India by seeking to set up communication with the dissenting groups in the Terai plains along the India-Nepal border.
UNMIN’s exit was on the cards when Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) leader Sitaram Yechuri, who is close to the Maoists, said during his recent visit to Nepal that the UN agency had no further role in the Himalayan nation though the UN would still have a key part in development.
UNMIN’s mandate had been to supervise the arms and combatants of the Maoists and observe last month’s election to ensure they were free and fair.
“Now that their tasks have been successfully completed, the UNMIN electoral staff have been progressively withdrawn from the districts and regions, and are departing from the mission,” Ban said in his report.
“The number of arms monitors is progressively being reduced as those who are rotating out towards the end of the mandate are not being replaced, and the Arms Monitoring Office will be restructured accordingly.
“Vacancies are not being filled, and all substantive staff contracts will terminate by July 23, leaving only administrative personnel that would be gradually phased out from August to December 2008,” the report added.
UNMIN employed over 900 personnel in Nepal.
However, the UN chief cautioned that though the critical election was over, Nepal still faced stiff challenges.
“The election is only a milestone in the peace process,” he said.
There was now the important task of forming a new government and drafting a constitution that would reflect the will of the entire nation and address its deeper socio-economic difficulties.
The contentious issue of ousting King Gyanendra at the first meeting of the newly elected constituent assembly on May 28 was yet another challenge.
“The second challenge is the building of sufficient agreement on how to fulfil the commitment in the interim constitution that the republic shall be implemented at the first meeting of the constituent assembly, and interim arrangements made for the functions of head of state during the drafting of the new constitution,” the report said.
Finally, Nepal would also have to complete the peace process, which involved the rehabilitation of the guerrilla soldiers.
“No progress was made during the election campaign regarding the discharge from the cantonments of minors and others found ineligible by UNMIN verification,” it added.