UN’s Nepal mission cannot be completed by Jan 23

November 11th, 2008 - 10:40 am ICT by IANS  

United Nations, Nov 11 (IANS) Despite considerable political progress being made, the task assigned to the UN Mission in Nepal (UNMIN) cannot be completed before the end of its current mandate on Jan 23, UN envoy for Nepal Ian Martin has said.The UNMIN needs another extension, though on a smaller scale, Martin told reporters at the UN headquarters in New York Monday.

Martin is here to brief the top UN officials about the current situation in the Himalayan country. Last week, briefed the powerful 15-member Security Council.

Martin said a broader decision on the extension of the UNMIN has already been reached during UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon’s meeting with the Nepali Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal in Kathmandu early this month.

“Any recommendation for an extension put forth by the secretary-general to the council would envisage a smaller UNMIN presence,” Martin said in response to a question.

While no official request has been received so far from Kathmandu, news reports in Nepal has indicated that the UNMIN is heading towards a six-month extension.

When asked about the unfinished agenda of the UNMIN, Martin said in addition to the delayed operation of the special committee, problems included widely differing views on the extent to which Maoist army combatants should be integrated into the country’s army.

Further, commissions provided for in the peace agreement had yet to be formed and youth groups had to be kept within the law, he observed.

Other outstanding matters were the compensation of victims, and the return of displaced persons and seized property. There were also 4,000 people, including minors, whom the secretary-general emphasised must be demobilised without delay, Martin said.

Emphasizing that the peace process is Nepalese-driven and that UNMIN’s responsibilities are narrowly focused on issues regarding the former combatants, Martin said: “These remaining issues could be quite difficult.”

Martin said the Nepali people had accomplished a lot in the past year by working together on a multi-party basis. The country has come a long way, indeed, from being a monarchy to a republic, he said.

Responding to a question as to why some critics had accused the UNMIN of being on the side of the Maoists, Martin said such accusations originated in misunderstandings of the narrow UNMIN mandate.

For example, according to negotiated agreements between the parties, Maoist leaders now part of the government had been allowed to be accompanied by armed Maoist security guards.

Martin said he has urged that the policy be reviewed, but it was a matter that could only be changed by the parties themselves.

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