October 27th, 2007 07:02 EST
UN Security Council likely to extend Mission in Nepal
The Security Council is likely to extend the mandate of the United Nations Mission in Nepal (UNMIN), the head of the operation said today, one day after the 15-member body held closed consultations on the issue.
Briefing reporters in New York, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s Special Representative for Nepal, Ian Martin, said the Government and the leaders of the seven parties, including the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist), have indicated their support for an extension of UNMIN.
“Security Council members in discussion yesterday made very clear that they would give sympathetic consideration to a request from the Government if such a formal request is made,” he said.
Mr. Martin also discussed key concerns expressed by the Secretary-General in his latest report on Nepal, which says the country is at a crossroads.
Nepal’s Constituent Assembly election, scheduled for 22 November, was recently postponed to an as-yet undetermined date. Mr. Martin explained that the immediate cause was demands by the Maoists that Nepal’s Legislature – not the Constituent Assembly to be elected – immediately declare the country a Republic, and that the electoral system be fully proportional, both in contradiction of previous agreements.
“Negotiations are continuing amongst political leaders to try to reach a compromise,” he said.
“This crisis is not just the consequence of those two demands but also stems from growing mistrust amongst the parties to the peace agreement that we have seen in recent weeks,” he said, blaming failures on both sides to make good on commitments and agreements that have been made within in the peace process.
The envoy noted that the current cantonment of Maoists and restriction of army to their barracks were intended to be temporary measures but these have now continued for some 11 months with no end in sight. “A prolonged stay in cantonments of thousands of mainly young people living under difficult conditions and lacking clarity about their future is not sustainable,” he said.
“It also leaves UNMIN with no exit strategy from its arms monitoring role.”
He emphasized the need to safeguard the Seven Party Alliance, which includes the Maoists, and its members’ common commitment to the peace process. That requires setting a date for Constituent Assembly election together with a roadmap for future steps, including addressing issues related to public security, he said.
Mr. Martin repeated a call in the Secretary-General’s report for the parties to take stock of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement and its implementation with a view to strengthening it.
“When I met Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala just before I left Kathmandu, I was encouraged to be told that he intends that there should indeed be a review of implementation of agreements,” Mr. Martin said.
“Expectations among Nepalis are high as to what UNMIN can do,” he said. “While I do my best to encourage the parties to keep the overall process on track and offer UNMIN’s advice as requested, we do feel constrained by an expectation that we should interpret our mandate narrowly and we ask ourselves – as concerned Member States ask us – whether Nepal is making full use of the supportive capacity of the United Nations.”
He added that if the Government and the parties desired it, the UN could provide greater support in implementation of the peace process; assisting a discussion on the future of the country’s security sector, including a managed transition from the currently temporary cantonments and arms management to long-term solutions; and providing greater advisory support on promoting public security towards the Constituent Assembly election.
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