UN concerned over Nepals peace process

Kathmandu: The chief of the UN peace mission in Nepal on Monday said the UNMIN will wrap up its task, but there was no clarity as to who would manage the arms and armed personnel of the Maoists and the military after its exit by the end of this week.

UN Special Envoy Karin Landgren, the chief of the UNMIN, said operations will cease from Saturday after four years.

However, she was unsure who will assume monitoring responsibilities.

The mandate of UNMIN, which was established by the world body as a special political mission in 2007 to manage the arms and armed personnel of the Maoists and the Nepal Army, is set to expire on January 15, 2011.

It has started the process to begin the pull out from the country.

Landgren, who returned from New York after presenting her report to the UNSC last week, appealed to the deadlock political parties to form consensus on the future monitoring of the Maoist combatants and Nepal Army after the withdrawal of UNMIN on January 15.

"What we hope to see most importantly is agreement on future monitoring arrangements. We have always said that we want to see an orderly departure for UNMIN. And, we can have that orderly departure when the parties have agreed on the future of the monitoring," she said at a press conference in the capital.

"So from UNMIN`s perspective, that is the single most important thing to agree in the next five days," she said, adding "Obviously, if they can come to a broader agreement on other outstanding peace process issues, that`s a plus as well."

Landgren said she was not sure what exactly would be done to the arms that are under UNMIN monitoring.

"I can`t speak to what happens with these arms after UNMIN leaves. As you know, the handling of these arms has always been left in the trust of the parties themselves," she said, adding "the peace process still faces some significant challenges."

The government last week said a special committee headed by the prime minister, with representatives from all major political parties including the Maoists, will take over the task of monitoring the peace process.

The Maoists, who joined mainstream politics after a decade-long insurgency in 2006, has accused the mainstream parties of trying to isolate the former rebels so that they are deprived of leading another coalition.

The withdrawal of the UNMIN has created new differences between the main opposition Maoists and the 22-party ruling coalition headed by the CPN-UML.

The caretaker government no longer wants the Nepalese army to be subject to monitoring, and wants supervision of the PLA camps to be handed over to a specially formed all-party committee.

But the Maoists oppose the move as it would go against the 2006 peace agreement and have asked the UN to extend its mission by another four months.

The country has been in political limbo since the June 30 resignation of Prime Minister Madhav Nepal. Despite a series of polls, the parliament has been unable to elect a new leader, stalling the 2006 peace process in the country.