High-level talks could help shore up peace in Nepal, says top UN envoy

31 July 2009
In 2006, the Maoist rebels and Nepalese government signed an historic peace agreement

The top United Nations envoy to Nepal said today that she is encouraged by the South Asian leaders’ willingness to discuss issues to push the peace process forward after weeks of simmering political tensions.

Last week, the Security Council adopted a resolution in which it called for the creation of a high-level consultative mechanism to discuss obstacles to consolidating peace in Nepal, where an accord was reached in 2006 between forces loyal to the former King of Nepal and Maoists. That pact ended a decade-long civil war that claimed some 13,000 lives.

Karin Landgren, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative, told reporters today in the capital, Kathmandu, that Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal and former prime ministers Girija Prasad Koirala and Pushpa Kamal Dahal (“Prachanda”) confirmed to her yesterday of their commitment to such talks.

“The political leaders indicated that their focus, in this mechanism, would include the new constitution,” she said. “This is especially important in light of the consensus that will be needed on establishing Nepal’s new federal structure.”

Following landmark elections in April last year, the newly-formed Constituent Assembly voted in favour of a federal democratic republic, leading to the abolition of the monarchy and the election of Ram Baran Yadav as the country’s first President.

In his latest report to the Council, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon voiced concern over setbacks in the peace process following the crisis sparked by the resignation of Mr. Dahal, the chairperson of the Unified Communist Party of Nepal-Maoist (UCPN-M), in early May, which occurred one day after the Chief of Army Staff – who he had fired – was reinstated.

Mr. Nepal, a senior leader of the Communist Party of Nepal-Unified Marxist-Leninist (UML), was elected Prime Minister on 23 May and subsequently formed a new coalition Government with the support of 21 other political parties but without the participation of the Maoists.

Given the importance of talks among the leaders, “we encourage the parties to give it a light but important substructure – to sustain the process, week in and week out; to capture the agreements that are reached; and to follow up on their implementation,” Ms. Landgren said today.

Last week’s Council resolution also extended by six months the mandate of the UN Mission in Nepal (UNMIN), set up in early 2007 as a special political mission tasked with helping advance the peace process in Nepal.

“Nepal’s peace process has had many successes since its inception,” said the Special Representative, who also heads the mission. “It is critical that all parties show restraint in words and actions, with strict adherence to the peace agreements, to re-establish the necessary confidence, and that they articulate a common vision of the peaceful path ahead.”

She also pledged UNMIN’s continued support in ensuring a durable peace takes hold in Nepal.


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