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UNMIN Report in Nepal

UNMIN Report in Nepal

Dr. Ramesh Dahal

Recently a Security Council Meeting on Nepal was held to discuss the future of UNMIN. Security Council members of various countries including China, India and the US were in attendance. Ambassador Madhu Raman Acharya presented Nepal's point of view. On the occasion Ian Martin, the Special Representative of the Secretary General in Nepal, presented what he visualized as the current situation in Nepal.

UNMIN was established with a mandate to monitor the management of arms and armed personnel of the Communist party of Nepal (Maoist) and the Nepalese Army, assist in monitoring ceasefire agreements, provide support for the conduct of the election of a Constituent Assembly and provide a small team electoral monitor.
In his address to this august body, Ian Martin outlined the various political activities in Nepal since the election of the Constituent Assembly. He spoke about the establishment of a federal democratic republic and summarized the outcome of negotiations that had delayed the formation of a new government. He recalled that the Comprehensive Peace Agreement required an action plan for the democratization of the Nepal Army, to include determining its appropriate size, training in values of democracy and human rights, ensuring its democratic structure and building its national and inclusive character. He also spoke about greater inclusion of Madhesis in the Nepal Army, the lack of machinery for effective accountability of the Army to an elected government and that decisions on the future of Maoist combatants should be taken in the context of broader decisions about the security sector. He outlined other challenges as the expulsion of minors and those excluded by UNMIN verification from the cantonments, lack of progress in delivering on compensation for victims of the conflict, investigation of disappearances and return of property and displaced persons.

Ian Martin has rightly recalled the clauses related to the Nepalese Army in the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, but what he chooses to subdue is a fact that the Nepalese Army has always honoured the accord. The Army is under the control of a civil authority. All policies related to the defence of the country are dictated to the Army by the Ministry of Defence. The Army is funded by the government of Nepal and the Army accounts are audited by the office of the Auditor General. The promotions and postings of the key military appointments are done either by the Cabinet of Ministers or the Defence Ministry. Even if Ian Martin was to go as far back as the constitution of 1991, he would have seen that there was a three member Security Council consisting of the Prime Minister, Defence Minister and the Chief of the Army. This Security Council was responsible for the mobilization of the Army. Yes, the politicians couldn't mobilize the army at their whimsical demands, as was seen when the then Prime Minister Koirala tried to do so in Holleri. But surely Ian Martin does not expect the Army to please the political masters at any cost in order to qualify as being accountable to the elected government. Or does he want the rank and file to be able to elect their commanders so as to qualify to his definition of democratization?

Next he raises the issue of a national character and inclusiveness, particularly that of the Madhesis. Here again it is quite apparent that Ian Martin has not done his home work. The racial break down of the Army is available at the Public Relations department of the Army and it was even published in "Kantipur" one of the leading dailies in Nepal. According to the data in this paper, the Tharus, the single largest ethnic Madhesi group account for 6.75 per cent of the population of Nepal and they constitute 4.99 per cent of the Army. The same article also shows that the Nepalese Army is manned by people from 38 casts or ethnic groups. Mr Martin would find it very difficult, if not impossible to come up with any other organization in Nepal that is more inclusive than this.

Mr Martin's demand that the future of Maoist combatants be decided in the context of broader decisions about the security sector is very much against the very Peace Accord that he so fondly refers to. The Clause in the Peace Accord, regarding this issue, reads as follows: "4.4 The Interim Council of Ministers shall form a special committee in order to inspect, integrate and rehabilitate the Maoist combatants". Why would Mr Martin all of a sudden want to bring up this new issue to complicate the peace process? Would it be just to extend his tenure?

Another area that Mr Martin wishes to remain silent on is the conduct of the very Maoist combatants that the UNMIN was meant to be "monitoring". How many times have the Maoist walked out of their cantonments with their weapons? How many people have they tortured inside the very cantonments that the UNMIN was meant to be monitoring? Even the murder of a businessman, Ramhari Shrestha took place under the very nose of UNMIN monitors. And what about the houses and agricultural land that the Young Communist League, a newly formed militant wing of the Maoists, have captured and flown their flags high very ostentatiously. And what about the extortion drives by the Maoists that the FNCCI had openly condemned? One only needs to follow the news of Nepal to understand that the UNMIN has been anything but a successful mission. Even the election to the Constituent Assembly, often regarded as the measure for the success of the UNMIN, was definitely not a free and fair process as Mr Martin would like the international community to believe. If one recalls the months leading up to the elections, the political cadres of all other parties were barred from reaching out to their voters, often by use of physical force by the Maoists. They even went to the extent of laying an ambush to assassinate former minister Khum Bahadur Khadka, but due to the alertness of the police, a couple of armed Maoist cadres died in the exchange of fire. The people of Nepal and the international community have remained largely quiet about the atrocities of the Maoists after the signing of the cease fire for the want of peace at any cost.

Mr Martin seems to have an unconventional view on the idea of fairness. His presentation of facts seems to have been arranged to suit the Maoists. Surely such conduct by the SRSG does not do justice to the high esteem the people of Nepal hold the UN in. Besides, with the reduction in the strength and mandate of the UNMIN, it would be but only suitable to have a new SRSG in Nepal.


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