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UNMIN flags down

Friday, January 14th, 2011

By an uncanny coincidence, this weekend marks the official opening of Nepal Tourism Year 2011, the departure of UNMIN, and the official commemoration of Earthquake Day.

Those who had predicted a major political earthquake with UNMIN’s departure are likely to be disappointed. As is their habit, Nepali politicians are striking a last minute deal on deadline to head off a crisis.


All Friday, the government and Maoists were huddled at a meeting at the Radisson Hotel, skipping the ceremonies to mark Tourism Year at the Stadium, which was officiated by the president, as well as a ceremonial flag-lowering at UNMIN headquarters.

By noon, Prime Minister Nepal and Maoist Chairman Dahal had agreed in principle to give continuity to the peace process and to iron out the exact modalities of the transfer of the monitoring of Maoist camps from UNMIN to the Special Committee and its composition.

The Maoists had been earlier warning that the peace process would collapse and there would only be a ceasefire in effect after UNMIN left, so the agreement on continuing with the Comprehensive Peace Accord is not insubstantial.

At the UNMIN headquarters in New Baneswor, the UN’s Samuel Tamrat ceremonially lowered the UN flag at sunset on Friday. Tamrat had been lobbying till the last moment for a “technical rollover” of the UN mission in Nepal, arguing that the political agreement was not yet in place to replace its monitoring of the Maoist and Nepal armies.

AT the flag-lowering, attended by senior Nepali government officials and the Maoist leadership, The UN’s Department of Political Affairs head of Asia-Pacific Samuel Tamrat paid tribute to the Nepali commitment to the
peace process.

Tamrat, who helped set up UNMIN in Nepal in 2006, said: “Regrettably insufficient progress has been made on the peace process and the parties have to redouble their efforts to implement all facets of the peace process.”

But Tamrat said what gave him hope was that Nepali leaders’ “ability to maintain dialogue and communications with respect and civility”.

Outgoing UNMIN chief Karin Landgren said that UNMIN being located next to the CA building showed how much had been achieved in Nepal over the past four years, but she said a lot of challenges remained.

“It has been a job well done, there were stops and starts, but the peace process was never derailed,” Landgren added, “however the peace process it is unfinished.”

Over at the Radisson, the disagreement centred mostly on composition of the Special Committee and the secretariat. But the Maoists were said to be agreeable to three of their representatives and members from the Nepal Army, Nepal Police and the Armed Police Force being included.

The two leaders signed a three-point agreement handing over the monitoring from UNMIN to the Special Committee which was mandated to iron out details on the terms of reference and composition of the secretariat.

There was still disagreement on whether the Special Committee would also be monitoring the Nepal Army, as UNMIN was doing. The Nepal Army has rejected that outright, but sources said a symbolic Special Committee
inspection of a token container of army weapons could be possible.

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