PRESS CONFERENCE BY HEAD OF NEPAL MISSION

10 November 2008

PRESS CONFERENCE BY HEAD OF NEPAL MISSION

10 November 2008
Press Conference
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

PRESS CONFERENCE BY head of nepal mission

Despite much political progress in Nepal, the tasks assigned to the United Nations Mission there, known as UNMIN, could not be expected to be completed by the end of its mandate on 23 January, Ian Martin, the head of the Mission and Special Representative of the Secretary-General told correspondents at Headquarters this afternoon.

“Our aim is the earliest possible completion of UNMIN’s mandate, but also the sustained and intensified support of the United Nations system and the international community to peace development and change in Nepal,” Mr. Martin said.  On Friday, he briefed the Security Council a week after United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon visited the country.

At the general debate of the General Assembly in September, and again during his visit, Mr. Ban had held discussions with Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal -- known as Prachanda -- about drawing down and closing the Mission in a manner that did not jeopardize the peace process, Mr. Martin said.

During those discussions, he said, the Prime Minister expressed his view that UNMIN’s presence was still needed pending reintegration and rehabilitation of combatants of the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist).  As completion of that task awaited the functioning of a newly formed (but not yet operational) special Nepalese committee, a realistic timetable for it could not yet be determined.

The Secretary-General asked that, if there were to be a request for a further extension by the Government, that the request should be made as soon as possible, so it could be put before the Council, Mr. Martin said.  Any recommendation for an extension put forth by the Secretary-General to the Council would envisage a smaller UNMIN presence, he added.

In addition to the delayed operation of the special committee, he said, problems included widely differing views on the extent to which Maoist army combatants should be integrated into the State Army.  In addition, commissions provided for in the peace agreement had yet to be formed and youth groups had to be kept within the law.  Other outstanding matters were the compensation of victims and the return of displaced persons and seized property.  There were also 4,000 people, including minors, whom the Secretary-General emphasized must be demobilized without delay.

Mr. Martin emphasized that the peace process was Nepalese-driven and that UNMIN’s responsibilities are narrowly focussed on issues regarding the former combatants.  But, these remaining issues could be quite difficult, he commented.  On the other hand, the Nepalese had accomplished a lot in the past year by working together on a multiparty basis.  In 2005, when the conflict was still raging and the King was in power, he said, no one could have predicted the profound changes in the country.  Now Nepal was a republic, previously marginalized groups were represented in the Constituent Assembly, and the people were looking forward to development on the basis of peace.

Asked whether UNMIN was addressing the issue of Terai armed groups, Mr. Martin said that no, it was the Government that was reaching out to them.  Asked why some critics had accused UNMIN of being on the side of the Maoists, he said that such accusations originated in misunderstandings of the narrow UNMIN mandate.  For example, according to negotiated agreements between the parties, Maoist leaders now part of the Government had been allowed to be accompanied by armed Maoist security guards.  Mr. Martin said he has urged that the policy be reviewed, but it was a matter that could only be changed by the parties themselves.

In answer to other questions, Mr. Martin said that the torturing to death of a businessman in a Maoist cantonment was being investigated by the Government, but that three Maoist army combatants wanted for questioning had not presented themselves to the police.  He stressed that there was a clear responsibility on the part of Maoist leadership to ensure that they cooperated.

On Government compensation to victims of the armed conflict, he said that the Maoists were concerned that the families of those disappeared or killed by the national security forces should be compensated.  There were, however, others victimized by the Maoists and others affected by the conflict that equally should be assisted. Compensation for all victims is a fundamental human right, Mr. Martin said.

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For information media • not an official record
For information media. Not an official record.