July 20th, 2007 16:02 EST
Verification of Maoist army personnel – to ensure no minors are serving
The senior United Nations envoy to Nepal and the leader of the Maoists today agreed on the resumption of the second phase of registration and verification of Maoist army personnel – to ensure that no minors are serving – as soon as possible.
Both Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s Special Representative Ian Martin, who also heads the UN Mission in Nepal (<"http://www.un.org.np/unmin.php">UNMIN), and Maoist Chairman Prachanda were accompanied by political and military colleagues at their meeting in the Himalayan country.
Military representatives will commence meetings to confer on lessons learned from the verification at the Ilam cantonment site and will also talk about possibility reviewing disputed cases, UNMIN said in a press statement.
The mission stressed that the review of a handful of cases could be based solely on criteria in the Agreement on Monitoring the Management of Arms and Armies.
The mission said it expects the discharge of those found to be ineligible, and anticipated that the Special Committee established by the Interim Government will give the process priority.
UNMIN teams completed the first phase of registering weapons and personnel in mid-February, when more than 30,850 Maoist personnel were registered and 2,855 weapons were stored under 24-hour UN monitoring. An equivalent number of weapons of the Nepal Army was also stored under UN-monitoring as part of this process.
In a related development, the first-ever report of the UN Electoral Expert Monitoring Team (EEMT), which cited the security situation as posing the largest threat to the Constituent Assembly elections slated to take place later this year, was submitted this week to the Nepalese Government.
The report of the EEMT – which operates independently of UNMIN – recommended that political leaders reach agreement, including signing codes of conduct which will be distributed widely among party activists, on security long before the elections take place.
EEMT was established by a Security Council resolution and comprises five members appointed by the Secretary-General.
It is tasked with regularly assessing the electoral process to determine whether it will lead to a result accurately reflecting the Nepalese people’s will. The team visited the country from 11 to 23 June.
Its report sets benchmarks, based on the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), to assess the election’s preparations. They include periodic elections, universal and equal suffrage, the right to stand for public office and the right to vote.
EEMT noted that the upcoming election’s representation formula meets democratic standards and ensures both universal suffrage and the right to contest elections.
At the same time, the report expressed concern that the control of the political elites could be bolstered and the free choice of voters thwarted by Article 7 of the Constituency Assembly Members Election Act, which stipulates that once results are issues, the central party committee will allocate winning seats from the proportional representation ballot to individual candidates.