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Security Council extends mandate of UN mission in Nepal by four months

21 January 2010 – The Security Council voted today to extend the United Nations political mission in Nepal (UNMIN) by nearly four months amid heightened tensions in the Asian country ahead of the issuing of a new constitution.

In a resolution adopted unanimously, Council members agreed to extend UNMIN through 15 May, two weeks before the new constitution is due to be promulgated.

But the resolution also said the mission should continue working with the Government on making arrangements to withdraw as it winds down and completes its mandate.

UNMIN was set up at the request of the Government in 2007 to monitor the management of arms and armed personnel of the former Royal Nepal Army and its foe, the Unified Communist Party of Nepal-Maoist (UCPN-M). The two sides signed the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) in November 2006, bringing an end to a conflict which claimed some 3,000 lives.

Council members today acknowledged “the strong desire of the Nepalese people for peace and the restoration of democracy and the importance in this respect of the implementation” of the CPA.

The 15-member body welcomed the creation of a high-level political mechanism working to ensure the promulgation of a constitution by 28 May, as well as the action plan signed last year by the UN, the Government and UCPN-M on releasing child soldiers.

With the holding of successful elections for the Constituent Assembly in May 2008, UNMIN has already accomplished some elements of its mandate.

Further, the Council said in today’s resolution, both phases of the verification process have concluded in line with UNMIN’s mandate and with the provisions of the CPA.

It called on all parties to “take full advantage of the expertise and readiness” of UNMIN before 15 May, which is also the deadline for the Government and UCPN-M to agree on a timetable for the integration and rehabilitation of Maoist army personnel.

The resolution urged “all political parties in Nepal to expedite the peace process, and to work together in a spirit of cooperation, consensus and compromise in order to continue the transition to a durable long-term solution to enable the country to move to a peaceful, democratic and more prosperous future.”

Last week, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s top envoy to the country stressed that although Nepal’s four-year-old peace process remains fragile and concerns that it could derail are real, the recent urgency shown by the parties in focusing on peace-related issues gives some grounds for hope.

“Although the hour is late, the recent actions by the Government and the parties, if followed through with vigour, have the potential to usher in constructive actions for the next stage of Nepal’s democratic transition,” Special Representative Karin Landgren told the Security Council.

In a report released earlier this month, Mr. Ban warned that Nepal’s peace process remained largely stalled and the major disagreements “remain unresolved, increasing the risk of its collapse.”

The country is entering a “crucial period” leading up to the promulgation of the new constitution, he wrote.

“While it is my desire to see UNMIN complete its mandated tasks and end its presence as soon as possible… withdrawing the Mission at this particular time of heightened tension would not be the wisest course,” the Secretary-General wrote, calling for an extension of the mission’s mandate.

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