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UN Mission to Investigate Weapons Claims by Nepal's Maoists


Concerns are being raised over whether Nepal's Maoists are disarming in line with the terms of a landmark peace deal. VOA's South Asia correspondent Steve Herman reports from New Delhi.

Nepal's Maoists are scrambling to control damage from comments made by their leader, Prachanda. The Maoist chairman was quoted as telling a public meeting on Monday that thousands of his followers and their weapons remain outside designated camps and they retain the capability to launch simultaneous attacks.

United Nations officials in Nepal on Wednesday said that Maoist spokesmen, in response, have called Prachanda's remarks inaccurate - contending their leader meant to refer to unstable ordnance kept in pits on the periphery of the U.N.-supervised cantonment sites.

U.N. Mission in Nepal spokesman Kieran Dwyer says the organization wants further clarification.

"We will be talking further with the Maoist leadership just to absolutely confirm what they said to the media to make sure that is precisely what they mean," said Dwyer.

Unregistered weapons are a violation of the agreement signed last December by Nepal's multi-party government and the Maoists intended to end the decades-old conflict, which has claimed 13,000 lives.

U.N. spokesman Dwyer says further inspections are to be carried out to determine if the Maoists are complying with the terms of the peace pact.

"We have a mine action team moving out this week to the satellite cantonment sites to check out whatever explosive devices they have there," he said. "So we will make sure that the Maoists have a proper system for bringing all those explosive devices into these supervised areas and there is a schedule for destruction of those devices."

The registration of weapons is considered a pre-requisite for constituent assembly elections, scheduled to take place in June. Although 35,000 rebels have registered, only about four thousand weapons have been surrendered.

The Maoists, now part of the interim legislature, conducted a decade-long violent campaign to topple Nepal's monarchy.

Meanwhile, King Gyanendra, has not responded to the call on Monday by Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala for the country's unpopular monarch to abdicate.

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