UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
NEPAL: Government and Maoists reach agreement over UN's role
KATHMANDU, 9 Aug 2006 (IRIN) - Nepal’s interim government and Maoist rebels have reached agreement on how they want the United Nations (UN) to help with peace efforts, representatives from both sides said on Wednesday.
Home Minister Krishna Prasad Sitaula, the government's representative, and Krishna Bahadur Mahara, a rebel spokesman, handed a letter to the UN office in the capital, Kathmandu, nearly two months after the sides began the peace process.
Sitaula said both sides had agreed to reach an understanding to remove obstacles to the peace process.
“Today our Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala and [rebel leader] Prachanda signed an agreement for a lasting peace,” Situala said.
Mahara said there was "no more confusion" between the groups.
"This joint letter is a historic step in the peace process,” he said.
The move came after disagreement between the parties over what role the UN should play.
On 5 July the interim government asked UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan to provide assistance to decommission Maoists forces. Furious with the letter, the Maoists wrote to the UN on 24 July stating that any decommissioning of armed forces had to include the government’s army.
Both sides have been accused of committing serious human rights abuses during the decade-long war. The conflict was suspended after a mass uprising led by the country’s seven parties, with support from the rebels, forced King Gyanendra to end his direct rule in April.
The joint letter followed a recent UN request that both sides reach a consensus as soon as possible on the management of weapons and armed forces.
The letter said the Maoists and interim government had agreed on key areas the UN could offer assistance. These included human rights monitoring, ensuring the army kept to barracks, monitoring the code of conduct during the ceasefire and observing proposed elections to the Constituent Assembly.
The sides had agreed that only civilian personnel should be deployed to “monitor and verify the confinement of Maoist combatants and their weapons within designated cantonment areas,” the letter said. The protocol for the arrangements would be worked out between the parties and the UN.
“Today is a new beginning for new agendas for the peace process to run smoothly and in a positive direction,” Mahara said.
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