Nepal: UN to start second phase of monitoring Maoist army personnel

Nepal: UN to start second phase of monitoring Maoist army personnel

UNMIN installs surveillance camera
The senior United Nations envoy to Nepal today announced the planned start this week of the second phase of monitoring Maoist army personnel in the country to ensure that no minors are serving.

“This is a crucial stage of the implementation of the Agreement on the Monitoring of Arms and Armies,” said Ian Martin, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s Special Representative, announcing that the process will begin Thursday in Ilam, in Nepal’s east.

Teams led by the UN Mission in Nepal (UNMIN) will individually verify the details of each registered Maoist army member to ensure that they were over the age of 18 before 25 May 2006 and that they joined the Maoist army before this cut-off date. Child protection officers from the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and registration personnel from the UN Development Programme (UNDP) will participate in the effort.

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.

The verification process will be undertaken through individual interviews of each person registered as a Maoist combatant, and will be done in each of the seven main cantonment sites one after the other, the mission said.

“As soon as the findings of verification at the first site are complete, they will be discussed with Maoist representatives so that the orderly discharge and reintegration of those who are to leave the cantonments can be carried out as soon as possible,” said Mr. Martin. “UNICEF and its partners will be making arrangements for the reintegration of those found to be minors.”

In his first public statement since the eight parties agreed that the Constituent Assembly election should be held before mid-December, the envoy stated that “UNMIN’s presence in Nepal and all aspects of its work are for the purpose of assisting in creating a free and fair atmosphere for this election.”

He emphasized that “the challenges involved in creating satisfactory conditions for a late November election are very considerable,” noting that “they require not just the fixing of a date, but a realistic plan and timetable to which all parties commit themselves, and which will ensure rapid progress on simultaneous fronts…encompassing not only the technical and logistical preparations but also political and security issues.”

The major electoral issue currently before the Interim Legislature-Parliament is to determine the electoral system. Mr. Martin called for dialogue with traditionally marginalized groups – Madhesis, Janajatis, Dalits, women and others – so that they are able to gain a reasonable degree of assurance that their legitimate demands for representation are being met by the electoral system.

“To ensure a successful election there is no substitute for a process which commands broad confidence,” he said.

Mr. Martin also pressed for talks and cooperation between the Home Ministry, the police, the Maoists and others on how to achieve public security, especially in districts and villages, in order to allow all parties to conduct their activities without facing intimidation and violence.

On the Young Communist League, the youth wing of the Maoist party, the envoy said he had had recent meetings with Maoist chairman Prachanda and that he has “urged that he make public the instructions under which the YCL operates, making clear that these are fully in accordance with the law and with human rights standards – in particular, that they must no use violence of any kind and must assist law enforcement only by acting as citizens cooperating with the police within the law.”

Mr. Martin also referred to the first visit of the UN Electoral Expert Monitoring Team, which arrived in Nepal this week. The five-member team, led by Spanish expert Dr Rafael Lopez-Pintor, will make a series of visits to Nepal during electoral process in order to determine whether it is proceeding in a manner which will lead to a result that accurately reflects the will of the Nepalese people.

The team reports to the Secretary-General who will make its findings available to the Government and the Election Commission.

Separate to the Electoral Expert Monitoring Team, UNMIN provides technical assistance to Nepal’s Election Commission for the planning, preparation and conduct of the Constituent Assembly election.

UNMIN is a special political mission established by the Security Council in January to support the peace process in Nepal, especially by assisting in the conduct of the Constituent Assembly election in a free and fair atmosphere.