So, if you haven’t forgotten, we are still going through the peace process. There are no big headlines as the series of signing one ‘historical’ understanding after another seems to have ended for now. The involvement of United Nations is what we are all waiting for. And that’s taking time. UN, we know, is bureaucratic monster sluggishness in its involvement in Nepali peace process is threatening the prospect of holding Constituent Assembly election on time. After pressure from the Maoist side, Nepali Congress is now mulling alternative arms management until UN makes itself ready to take the charge. Here are news reports about the process from the past few days:
Interim constitution in ‘few days’
PM, Prachanda for stopgap arms mgmt
By Yuvraj Acharya
Dec 6 – Nepali Congress on Wednesday decided to talk to the UN Secretary General’s personal representative in Nepal, Ian Martin, to work out an alternative arrangement for monitoring of arms and confinement of Maoist combatants in cantonments until UN monitors arrive on the ground. Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala summoned senior Nepali Congress leaders to his official residence at Baluwatar this afternoon and told them to work on an alternative arrangement for arms management. Koirala took the decision after Maoist Chairman Prachanda and his deputy Dr Baburam Bhattarai met him and urged him to consider an alternative arrangement in view of procedural delays in the arrival of UN arms monitors.
The Maoist leaders, according to a source, had cautioned the PM that delays in arms management and formation of the interim government could have “chain effects”, eventually affecting the constituent assembly election. According to a senior leader of the party, Prime Minister Koirala has asked his nephew and party Central Working Committee member Dr Shekhar Koirala to discuss and explore the alternative arrangement with Marin, on behalf of the government. Martin returned Wednesday from his visit to UN headquarters where he appraised the Security Council of Nepal’s peace process.
“Dr Koirala and Home Minister Krishna Sitaula have already taken up the issue with UN arms expert John Eric Wilhemsion,” said the senior leader. “But there was no immediate response from the UN official.” “We have realized that waiting until the arrival of all the UN monitors will cause delay in managing the Maoist arms and this could affect the entire peace process, including the conduct of constituent assembly elections,” he said.
According to an NC source, Maoist leader Prachanda has proposed setting up an eight-member joint technical team to help the arms monitoring process. “NC has taken it positively,” the source said. A Nepali Congress source said the party will propose using ex-British or ex-Indian army personnel for verification of the Maoist arms before they are locked away. “Seventy containers for locking away the arms will arrive from India on Friday,” he said.
‘UN procedure delaying arms management process’
Dec 6 – Minister for Tourism, Culture and Civil Aviation, Pradeep Gyawali today said that the formal procedural delay from the United Nations has caused the delay in the implementation of the interim constitution and formation of the interim government. Oce Ian Martin, UN Secretary General’s personal representative in Nepal, returns to the capital, the arms monitoring process will begin, Gyawali said. He said that with the onset of arms monitoring, the interim constitution will also be created. (source)
Martin Returns, Says Tripartite deal not yet final: Dec 6- Ian Martin, head of the UN team assisting in Nepal peace process, returned to the capital today. He had left for New York a few days ago to brief UN Secretary General on Nepal peace process. Martin said, “The international community, including the UN has expressed full commitment to extend cooperation to Nepal in its peace process.” Stating that the UN team would start coming to Nepal by the end of this week to study the technical aspects, Martin said that work regarding the full mobilization of the advance team was underway.
He said the UN Law Department has studied the agreement signed on behalf the government and Maoists for management of arms and the armies, and it has given suggestions for making some of the points more clear. He added that the sides concerned would be asked to clarify those points. Martin stated that he would sign the Agreement on the Management of Arms and the Armies after that amendment.
According to the UN sources, a 19-member UN team would arrive here by Friday for studying the technical aspects and it would finalize the technical matters by December 20. Twenty-five countries are learnt to have expressed interest for monitoring of the armies and arms under the UN auspices. Similarly, the UN Security Council is studying for providing an assistance of approximately US $ 10 million, it is said. (source)
Meanwhile, Maoist impunity goes unchecked
They Loot agro-products, halt development project
Dec 6 – Taking no heed of the peace agreement signed by Maoist leaders with the government, Maoist cadres in several districts have continued to issue threats to members of the general public, loot agricultural produce from farmers and halt development projects. Maoist cadres in Sorahawa VDC-4 of Bardiya district recently threatened to kill one Radheshyam Kurmi if he did not abandon his house and property. Kurmi, who was displaced from his village under Maoist pressure three years ago, had returned home recently following the peace agreement. According to Kurmi, his name appeared on the Maoists’ hit list after he argued with some local Maoist cadres over trespassing on his land and felling of trees a few days ago. Maoist cadres Naresh Yadav and Karna Bahadur aka Bistar threatened to kill him, he said appealing to human rights workers and media persons in Gulariya to protect his life. Meanwhile, Maoist district committee member “Yudha” said that he was unaware of the incident.
Maoists loot ex-minister’s paddy : In rural Rupandehi district, Maoist cadres have continued to loot paddy from farmers and landlords, regardless of the peace pacts agreed to by their leaders. Those falling prey to Maoist depradations include former minister and spokesperson of the Rastriya Jansakti Party Sarwendra Nath Sukla. Maoists also seized agricultural produce recently from fields belonging to Yatindra Nath Sukla and Sarbagya Nath Sukla of Marchawa and Ajay Chaudhary and Ashok Chaudhary of Makrahar-1, the victims said. “They (Maoists) looted the entire output of my 22 bighas,” said Sarbendra Nath Sukla. Meanwhile, Maoist district in-charge Bamdev Chhetri said that “only the interim government with Maoist participation can take a concrete decision over the issue.”
“Stop Saptakoshi high dam project”: Maoists have issued a warning against the start of construction work on the ambitious Saptakoshi high dam, which is to be built at Barahachettra of Sunsari district with the joint investment of Nepal and India. Issuing a release on Wednesday, the Maoists warned not to start any “large projects in Kirant territory unless the treaties and agreements between India and Nepal are reviewed.”
Maoists bar NEA employees, police: A team of Nepal Electricity Authority (NEA) employees and police who had reached Brahampuri village of Siraha district Tuesday night to check power theft were stopped by local Maoists from entering the village and subjected to ill treatment, the victims said. Maoists, including “area secretary” Gangaram Mahato, had stopped the team, saying they could not enter the village without the permission of the “people’s government”.
Maoists detain politicos, rights activists: Maoists on Wednesday (Dec 6) afternoon detained a 25-member team of political leaders and human rights workers at Sukdeva of Hekuli-7 of the district for four-and-a-half hours. The team had visited the village to inquire into Maoists’ seizure of agricultural produce earlier from Nepali Congress leaders Lokmani Giri and Devendra Giri. According to NC leader Bir Kesari Gautam, a member of the team, local Maoist leaders had stopped them while they were returning from Sukdeva, and asked, “Who are you and why have you come here?” CPN-UML’s Dang Secretary Shobharam Basnet, another member of the team, said Maoists “mistreated” team members during the four-and-a-half hours of captivity. The captives were released around 6:30 pm after central leader of the Maoists telephoned the local cadres, NC leader Gautam said. Maoist leaders could not be contacted to comment on the incident. (source)
‘Arms monitoring, interim statute interlinked’
Dec 4 – Representatives of the government and the CPN-Maoist said the UN’s monitoring process may affect the finalizing of the Interim Constitution. Pradip Gyawali, minister and member of the government’s negotiating team, said, “The Interim Constitution and UN arms monitoring issues are inter-related and delay in monitoring arms may cause delay in finalizing the Interim Constitution. We can finalize it any time we sit for discussions.” Krishna Bahadur Mahara, coordinator of the Maoist negotiating team, added: “I also think the UN’s monitoring process may affect finalizing of the Interim Constitution.”
As the UN Security Council has already endorsed the Secretary General’s proposal to deploy arms monitors in Nepal, a special technical team is expected to arrive in Nepal by next week. It is expected it will take about one month for a full-fledged UN monitoring team to arrive in Nepal. (source)
UN has Rs 226m for Nepal
Dec 4 – Denmark on Monday announced its decision to contribute US$ 1 million (Rs 71 million) to the United Nations Trust Fund to finance the UN peace mission in Nepal. The total pledged amount stands at Rs 226 million so far. Britain has pledged contribution of £1 million (Rs 137 million) to the UN Trust Fund, while Norway has said it will provide $250,000 (Rs 18 million) to the Fund “for the moment”.
In addition, the Danish parliament has already approved Rs 500 million for the year 2007 “for activities related to the peace process and the process of creating a new constitution in Nepal”, said a statement from Danish Embassy.
UN has said it is getting overwhelming response from member countries in its call to contribute personnel and money to support the Ian Martin mission.
In spite of their commitment to put an end to all forms of excesses:
Maoists intervene in DDC tender
RAJBIRAJ, Dec 4- Due to intervention by Maoists, the signing of contract agreements for various government requirements, with the District Development Committee (DDC) was cancelled again on Monday. It had earlier been cancelled three times due to disputes.
Maoists abduct, issue threat and beat up
RASUWA, Dec 4- Maoist cadres, who had abducted principal of Dhunche Secondary School Tir Bahadur Gurung from Majhigaun on Saturday, have demanded one million rupees from Gurung, according to a statement issued Monday by the central committee of Nepali Congress (NC). His whereabouts is unknown.
Meanwhile in Dhading, Maoists recently threatened to kill an active NC member Ram Hari Nepal of Khalte VDC-4 Dandagaon, said the NC statement. Last year the Maoists had released him after torturing him for 10 days, according to NC.
Likewise, in Okhaldhunga, Maoist cadre Kaji Bhujel Thursday evening beat up a district leader of Nepali Congress Hem Prasad Dahal. The latter was at his home at Lamidanda when Bhujel assaulted him on the charge of consuming alcoholic drinks. Political parties in the district have denounced the Maoist’s highhandedness. (source)
Maoists seize crops
Dec 3 – Maoist cadres in Okhaldhunga are still holding locals’ lands and continue to seize the product of farmers at Tarkerabari-7. “They (Maoists) had seized my farmland seven years ago. I thought they would release it after signing the peace agreement. But they haven’t, they are still holding it,” said local Rajkumar Shrestha.
Locals forced to house Maoists: In Nigali of Kailali, Maoist cadres are still continuing to “forcibly” reside and eat in the houses of locals. “The Maoists are still punishing locals if they do not comply withtheir demands,” a local said requesting anonymity.
Locals nab Maoist cadre: Locals at Maintada VDC-6 of Surkhet on Sunday nabbed local Maoist cadre Karna Bahadur Adhikari aka Nisan, who allegedly thrashed and robbed local businessman Dhan Bahadur Khadka a day earlier. Adhikari, who was held in possession of a pistol was handed over to the area police office. Meanwhile, Khadka who was seriously injured due to the Maoist beating has been taken to Kohalpur Medical College for treatment, police said.
Locals close Phikkal bazaar indefinitely: In Ilam, residents of Phikkal bazaar have called for an indefinite closure of the bazaar demanding that Maoists should release the local police post and VDC office, which they have been occupying since long. Protestors also blocked Mechi Highway for the entire day on Sunday.
Commoners forced into buying tickets: In Sankhuwasabha, Maoists are pressing commoners, political leaders and offices in district headquarters Khadbari to purchase tickets ranging from Rs 50 to 10,000 for some cultural program they are organizing here on Monday and Tuesday. Also, locals here have been complaining that Maoists were causing noise pollution by advertising for the program in the locality. (source)
Nepali Army starts clearing landmines
Dec 3- Nepali Army (NA) has initiated the process of clearing land mines it planted to deter Maoist combatants during the 11-years of armed insurgency. Speaking at a function organized by Ban Landmines Campaign Nepal (NCBL) in the capital on Sunday, Major Prabin Bahadur Khadka, chief of OIC EOD Holding Unit of NA, said, “We have already established Mine Action Center at our Headquarters in Kathmandu. It will start its work within this week.” Major Khadka said five separate Mine Action Centers would be established in all NA Divisions across the country. He added that NA’s technical team will first carry out technical surveillance of landmines and other types of explosives in all parts of the country and make necessary preparations to clear them. According to him, NA used conventional anti-personnel landmines and command detonated devices in its bases during the conflict. He said NA currently has some 12,000 anti-personnel mines planted in its different base areas. “We have enough manpower. But we expect technical assistance from organizations working in this field to clear them,” said Khadka. (source)