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Nepal: Annan concerned over confrontation brewing

Secretary-General voices concern over confrontation brewing in Nepal

United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan voiced concerned today over a confrontation developing in Nepal, where the Government has imposed a ban on protests in Kathmandu on the eve of a planned demonstration by the opposition “Seven-Party Alliance,” and has reportedly arrested many government opponents.

“While maintenance of law and order is the responsibility of the State, security considerations should not be the basis for denying citizens their right to peaceful protest – a right for which virtually all avenues seem to be closing,” Mr. Annan said through a statement released by his spokesman.

He also called attention to the recent announcement by the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) that it has suspended military activity in the Kathmandu Valley and urged the rebel group to take further steps to fulfil their publicly-made commitments.

“The Secretary-General appeals to all sides in Nepal to work towards ending the conflict through a reciprocal ceasefire agreement,” the spokesman said.

Violations of international humanitarian law in Nepal have “deepened a great deal” over the past two months, with Maoist rebels increasingly targeting cities and Government forces dropping mortar bombs from helicopters in civilian areas, a spokesman for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights said yesterday.

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