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UN in Nepal concerned at reports that Maoists retain arms, fighters outside camps

UN in Nepal concerned at reports that Maoists retain arms, fighters outside camps

The United Nations Political Mission in Nepal (UNMIN) has expressed concern over media reports quoting the chairman of the country’s Maoists as saying the group retains weapons and combatants outside specified cantonment sites, actions that would breach agreements signed under last year’s historic peace deal that ended a decade of civil war in the country.

The Secretary-General’s Special Representative, Ian Martin, the head of UNMIN, met the Maoist leadership on Tuesday to discuss these reports, and was told they were incorrect. UNMIN is seeking further clarification from the Maoists, the Mission said in a press statement, adding that it calls on the group to fulfil its commitment to report all unregistered arms.

UNMIN and the Joint Monitoring Coordinating Committee (JMCC) will investigate any reports of unregistered Maoist Army weapons outside these agreed cantonment sites, and treat them as a “violation of existing agreements and… illegal.”

The Mission stressed it was essential that all unlicensed firearms in the community, whether held by the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoists) or other groups and individuals, be handed over to police control ahead of the planned June elections.

Last week UNMIN made public the conclusions of a JMCC report on the first phase of the world body’s registration of Maoist arms and fighters, while Mr. Martin said it was essential to reach an agreement regarding security for the group’s leaders.

The report by the JMCC, made up of representatives from the UN, the Maoist Army and the Nepal Army, concluded that nearly 3,500 weapons were registered as well as more than 31,000 Maoist combatants during this first phase of the process.

According to the report’s conclusion, the Nepal Army is to store arms in equal numbers to that of the Maoist Army, and discussions on this are ongoing within the JMCC.

The Security Council established UNMIN in January to assist with the follow-up to the peace deal and also to support this year’s planned elections in the impoverished Himalayan country where 10 years of civil war killed around 15,000 people and displaced over 100,000 others.