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UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
Friday 7 October 2005

NEPAL: Europeans concerned over Nepal's situation

KATHMANDU, 6 Oct 2005 (IRIN) - A European Union troika visiting Nepal says it is worried that the country could be on the verge of political collapse.

The three-day visit by the high-level EU team concluded its assessment on Thursday, calling on the government, political parties, rebels and security forces not to lose time in effectively addressing the country's problems.

"The real fear we have in our minds is that the failure of the constitutional forces in Nepal to work together would lead to breakdown of the government institutions," head of the delegation Tom Phillips said.

This is the second visit by the EU troika since December 2004 when the team met the former Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba. King Gyanendra sacked Deuba and his government in February 2005 and subsequently assumed direct rule. Since then the international community has expressed concerns about the political crisis, as well as the negative impact it was having on Nepal’s development aid.

European donors like Denmark and Switzerland became the first countries to cut bilateral aid to the Himalayan kingdom. Danish-funded activities under the Revenue Administration Support project were suspended until further notice. Copenhagen has still not decided whether to enter into any project or programme agreements with the Nepalese authorities.

Just over seven months have passed since Nepal has seen a democratic government or held any elections. “We judge the changes of 1 February to have been self-defeating," Phillips said, adding that multiparty democracy was the only sustainable solution to the country’s problems.

This year alone, various credible international and national reports assessed that the country was facing humanitarian challenges. They added that human rights abuses were escalating and torture was still practiced. In September, the UN Special Rapporteur on torture, Manfred Nowak, visited Nepal and found that detainees were subject to torture and ill-treatment by the police and army.

“We urge the government and the security forces to lead by example in respecting human rights, to tackle the prevailing culture of impunity and to use security legislation with utmost caution,” an EU statement said.

The delegation also cautioned that the Maoists, who have fought a nine-year war against the government, should not to be under any illusions and said that the EU absolutely rejected the use of violence.

Although it welcomed the unilateral ceasefire declared by the Maoists in September, the delegates were still skeptical whether they were sincere about their declaration. According to reports, the incidents of extortion, abduction, human rights abuses and disruption of development are still taking place.

“My sense is that the sincerity of their ceasefire has yet to be proved. The Maoists are yet to convince us that they are willing to renounce violence as a means to political ends and are ready to take part in a meaningful political negotiation," Phillips said.


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