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UN Frustrated by Nepal's Maoist Former Rebels

U.N. officials in Nepal had hoped to begin verifying the identities of thousands of people in U.N-supervised camps who claim to be members of the Peoples' Liberation Army. But as Steve Herman reports from New Delhi, the former insurgents have set conditions for the registration process, delaying the effort.

Former Maoist rebels in Nepal have blocked the start of registration of their fighters in U.N.-supervised cantonments. The registration process is part of a peace deal signed last November, which brought an end to the decade-long insurgency.

The U.N. Mission in Nepal says the Maoist leadership wants conditions improved in the camps and the government to pay the former insurgents before the survey begins.

More than 30,000 people live in the cantonments. The Maoists and U.N. officials agree that improvements to the camps need to be made quickly before the onset of the monsoon season.

U.N. spokesman Kieran Dwyer says personnel have been ready for weeks to begin verifying whether there are any children in the camps or if any residents were recruited by the Maoists after last May.

"The Maoist party is now preventing this happening on the basis of having certain matters dealt with as a pre-condition to starting that process," Dwyer said. "Regardless of other matters, they cannot now put pre-conditions on completing the process."

The United Nations says the communists are obligated by the peace agreement to allow verification unconditionally.

Dwyer says there are signs, however, that the stalemate could be broken within days.

"Talks are ongoing inside the government. And, of course, the Maoists are now inside the government, so it is not just a Maoist-government talk. We are not party to those talks," Dwyer noted. "We are advised by those in the talks they expect to see a solution from negotiations in the very near future."

The chief of the U.N. mission headed to New York to brief the Security Council on the Nepal peace process.

Street protests a year ago forced King Gyanendra to relinquish power and restore parliament. An interim government took power and signed a peace accord with the Maoists, ending an insurgency that had left about 13,000 people dead.

The Maoists joined the interim government last month. But friction remains, with no certain date set for elections and the Maoists demanding that Nepal immediately be declared a republic.

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