Maoist army personnel, weapons must stay in cantonments – UN envoy to Nepal

Maoist army personnel, weapons must stay in cantonments – UN envoy to Nepal

The top United Nations official in Nepal today vowed that the world body would play its part to try to ensure that Maoist army personnel and weapons are contained to the agreed cantonments during the current election campaign for the Constituent Assembly.

Ian Martin, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative and the head of the UN Mission in Nepal (UNMIN), met with the country’s independent Election Commission in Kathmandu, the capital, to discuss the effective monitoring of the cantonments through the Joint Monitoring and Coordination Committee.

Mr. Martin told election commissioners that the mission had made it clear to the leadership of the Communist Party of Nepal-Maoist (CPN-M) that it was a breach of the Agreement on the Monitoring of the Management of Arms and Armies for personnel and/or weapons from Maoist army cantonments to be present at meetings outside the cantonments – including for the purpose of providing leadership security.

While UNMIN recognizes the importance of adequate security arrangements for leaders and candidates of all parties, special security arrangements for the Maoist leadership were agreed upon in a signed understanding between the Government and the Maoists.

Nepalese voters go to the polls on 10 April to elect members of the Constituent Assembly, which will be tasked with drafting a new constitution for the country. The polls, which have been delayed several times because of political violence, are part of a democratization process following the end of the decade-long civil war, which killed an estimated 13,000 people until the Government and Maoists signed a peace accord in 2006.

Meanwhile, 21 Tibetans aged between 15 and 18 climbed into the UN compound in Kathmandu this morning, and then peacefully presented a banner to UN staff with slogans along the lines of “Free Tibet.”

After apologizing for entering the compound, the teenagers were given lunch and then taken home, with the UN asking local authorities to not take any action against the children.