UN fears Nepal Maoists still clinging to military past

January 9th, 2009 - 6:34 pm ICT by IANS  

Kathmandu, Jan 9 (IANS) Almost three years after they ended their guerrilla war against the government and came to power through an election, Nepal’s Maoist party may still be using arms and violence, the UN has said.In his latest report on Nepal tabled before the UN Security Council that was released Friday, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon says: “The internal debate held during the national gathering (of the Maoists) and some public statements by Maoist leaders also resonated outside the party, giving rise to further questioning of the Maoists’ commitment to multi-party democracy and concern that the party has not abandoned its military past.”

The UN chief, who had made a high-profile visit to Nepal late last year, noted that violent incidents by the Maoists and their youth wing, the Young Communist League (YCL), continued to be reported.

The report says that there were widespread protests after two young men abducted by the YCL were found dead in November.

“(With) other parties maintain(ing) that their youth wings are responding to the activities of YCL, a particular responsibility rests with the Maoists to end (the YCL’s) paramilitary functioning and ensure that it complies fully with the laws of the land,” Ban said.

The UN chief also noted that many peace pact commitments were yet to be implemented. Despite repeated commitments by Maoist Prime Minister Prachanda to return property seized by his party, there are many known cases of land and property not being returned while new seizures continue to be reported, the report said.

Ban has also regretted the fact that the Maoists are yet to discharge their child soldiers and others illegally recruited into their People’s Liberation Army.

“(Even) by mid-December, the peace and reconstruction ministry had still not been ready to discuss the process of (their) discharge and reintegration,” the report said.

The UN chief says that neither then Royal Nepal Army or Maoists have been brought to justice for systematic use of torture and disappearances recorded by the UN’s rights agency in Nepal.

In addition, he says, the Prachanda cabinet last year decided to withdraw 349 cases of a “so-called political nature”. Most of the persons named in the cases were Maoists, including some senior members of the government.

According to media reports, the cases include robbery, rape and murder.

Ban also notes that the Maoist minister of defence reportedly met a Maoist army commander, who is wanted for the abduction and subsequent killing of a businessman. While the wanted Maoist still reportedly continued to hold responsibilities as a Maoist army commander, the results of a judicial investigation into the death of the victim have still not been made public, the report said.

Ban has also recommended that the size of the UN mission monitoring the arms and combatants of the Maoists be downsized by nearly 50 percent and the smaller unit be headed by a representative, instead of a special representative of the Secretary-General, as the incumbent, Ian Martin is.

However, the UN chief still feels that the UN could play a greater role in Nepal’s peace process.

“Most representatives of the international community expressed the view that the United Nations is best placed to coordinate international assistance,” the report says.

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