Govt-Maoists ink pact to monitor peace process

Kathmandu: The government and the main Opposition Maoist party on Friday inked a crucial eleventh-hour deal to monitor Nepal`s fragile peace process after the UN mission tasked to supervise the arms and the army of the former rebels and the military ends its task tonight.

Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal and UCPN-Maoist chairman Prachanda inked a three-point deal to form a six- member team to monitor the arms and armies of both Maoist and the government after the departure of UNMIN tomorrow.

The caretaker Prime Minister hailed the agreement as an important step in the peace process.

The Maoists supremo said they agreed on the post-UNMIN situation in the peace process and the monitoring of the arms and militaries of the government and the former rebels.

The former prime minister also expressed the hope that the peace process in future would be carried out on the basis of consensus.

The government and the Maoist also agreed to thank UNMIN for its support to the peace process and also ask to the handover the equipment being used by UNMIN to monitor arms and armies to the government, Home Minister Bhim Rawal was quoted as saying by myrepublica, the website of Republica newspaper.

The deadlock in Nepal`s peace process has sparked concern among the international community as the United Nations Mission in Nepal (UNMIN), which has been tasked to monitor the peace process since 2007, wraps up its mission on January 15.

As part of the deal today, the government and the Maoists reaffirmed their commitment to abide by all past agreements relating to peace process, including the management of arms and armies.

The panel would carry out tasks related to the arms and army monitoring for which three members would be selected from the special committee and another three from the special committee secretariat, the report said.

It is seen as a significant breakthrough as the Maoists and government were putting forward varying proposals on the post UNMIN scenario.

The government wanted to entrust all the duties of the UNMIN to the special committee secretariat led by Balananda Sharma, former Nepal Army General. However, the Maoist was in favour of an extension of the UNMIN`s tenure even if only in a limited capacity.

Nepal has been without a government since June 30, when Prime minister Nepal stood down under intense pressure from the Maoists. Parliament has failed to elect a prime minister even in 16 rounds of election as parties.

Nepali Congress, the second largest party, formally decided to withdraw R C Poudyal, the sole candidate amid intense pressure from its key coalition partner CPN-UML, main opposition UCPN (Maoist) and from within the party in a bid to build a consensus to end the deadlock that has derailed the 2006 peace process.

The political crisis has been hugely damaging for Nepal, which is still reeling from its decade of civil war, in which more than 16,000 people were killed. The standoff has delayed the drafting of a new constitution and conclusion of the peace process.

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