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Nepal Will Require Continued UN Presence - Envoy

Nepal will require continued United Nations presence to advance peace - United Nations envoy

18 July 2008 - The main political actors in Nepal have agreed that a scaled-down United Nations presence is necessary for at least another six months to help advance peace and development in the country, the world body's top official there said today.

The Secretary-General's Special Representative, Ian Martin, told a meeting of the Security Council that the leaders of the three largest parties wanted the UN Mission in Nepal (UNMIN) to continue past 23 July - when its current mandate expires.

"Each of them confirmed that they wished UNMIN to continue as a special political mission, headed by a Special Representative of the Secretary-General, in order to assist in taking the peace process forward to its logical conclusion," he stated.

UNMIN was established in January 2007 to help the country, which emerged from a decade-long civil war that claimed an estimated 13,000 lives until the Government and the Maoists signed a peace accord in 2006, conduct its Constituent Assembly elections.

It is also responsible for monitoring the management of arms and armed personnel of the Communist Party of Nepal-Maoist (CPN-M) and the Nepal Army, and assist in monitoring ceasefire arrangements.

Mr. Martin reported that, at its first meeting on 28 May, Nepal's newly-elected Constituent Assembly voted in favour of a federal democratic republic, and the former king left the palace, within the allotted time and without incident, to remain peacefully in the country.

The Assembly is scheduled to elect Nepal's first President tomorrow, and to proceed to name a Prime Minister who will form a new government, he added.

A broad-ranging agreement signed by the leaders of the Seven-Party Alliance on 25 June constitutes the basis for proceeding to the formation of a new government. That agreement requires that the integration and rehabilitation of the Maoist combatants should be carried out within six months, and notes the need for UNMIN to continue monitoring the management of arms and armies during that period.

"This in no way detracts from the fact that the process remains and will remain a fully Nepalese-owned process," Mr. Martin noted.

The Secretary-General's recent report to the Council points out that UNMIN has drawn up a contingency plan for a "radically downsized mission," which would result in a reduction of at least 70 per cent in the substantive staffing of the Mission.

"Our plans envisage that if the Council extends UNMIN's mandate, the Special Representative will continue to be supported by a Political Affairs Section, while the Arms Monitoring Office will continue at approximately half its previous establishment of 186 arms monitors," said Mr. Martin.

The Council is expected to take up the extension of UNMIN's mandate next week.

The Special Representative also expressed concern about how quickly the new government will be able to move forward in carrying out the 25 June agreement, which he said will depend greatly on the degree of multi-party cooperation which survives current disagreements over the sharing of posts.

Among the other challenges facing Nepal, he also noted the lack of progress in delivering on compensation for victims of the conflict, investigation of disappearances, and return of property and of displaced persons to their homes.

ENDS

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