Ban Ki-Moon Concerned Over Nepal's Peace Process
New York, Oct 31 2009 2:10PM
That key commitments in the peace process in Nepal have not been implemented is cause for serious concern, with persistent mistrust among the parties undercutting their capacities for flexible negotiation, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has written in a new report http://www.unmin.org.np/downloads/keydocs/SG%20Report%20Oct%2009.pdf.
The parties' "absorption in day-to-day politics and internal party issues" are also impeding talks, but recently the three major parties have created an informal task force and started discussing contentious issues pertaining to the peace process and constitution, Mr. Ban said.
A decade-long civil war, claiming some 13,000 lives, ended in 2006 with the signing of a peace accord between the Government and Maoists. After conducting Constituent Assembly elections in May 2008, the nation abolished its 240-year-old monarchy and declared itself a republic.
"While consultations at all levels continue in an ad hoc manner, it remains my view that a more formal mechanism in support of such interactions among senior leaders would benefit the peace process," the Secretary-General noted.
The election of a representative Assembly -- whose central and "arguably most important challenge" is to draft a new constitution to be promulgated next May -- is the most significant achievement of the peace process to date, he said.
The overall schedule to draw up the constitution has been revised for the sixth time and senior leaders of the main parties have generally not participated in discussions.
Mr. Ban called on the parties to step up efforts to address the long-term underlying causes of the conflict, such as restructuring the State and land reform. "To date, there has been little by way of agreed strategies for moving forward on these vital issues."
After months of "drift," the recent plan to restart the discharge of disqualified former Maoist fighters, with the joint engagement of the Government and Maoists, bodes well for the peace process, but he warned that it is too early to be confident about the initiative's success.
"It is therefore critical that the Government, UCPN-M [Unified Communist Party of Nepal-Maoist] and the Maoist army sustain their cooperation and implement this long-overdue commitment as soon as possible," he said.
"Nepal is on the path of major political and social transformation," the Secretary-General wrote in his latest report on the UN Mission in Nepal (http://www.unmin.org.np/). "A Government of national unity remains desirable for timely promulgation of the country's new constitution and for the successful integration and rehabilitation of Maoist army personnel."
But also essential is a thorough review of the peace pact's implementation, which has not taken place since its signing in August 2006. "The parties should develop a clear road map of the priority actions needed
to fulfil the expectations of the people of Nepal for the dividends of democracy and social transformation," he said.
In spite of the initial positive steps taken to promote the integration and rehabilitation of Maoist army personnel and discharge those disqualified by the 2007 verification process, the report pointed out that "those steps are rather tentative and cannot with certainty be considered sufficient to create the conditions for the completion of the Mission's activities by the end of the current mandate" next January.
"This underscores the considerable task that awaits the Nepalese parties in the coming two and a half months," the Secretary-General said. UNMIN, which was set up in January 2007 to assist with the peace process, "and the United Nations as a whole stand ready to assist them in achieving their peace process commitments."