The peace process in Nepal is at a crossroads as the United Nations winds up its mission there, with the major challenge remaining to integrate 19,000 personnel from the Maoist army which fought a decade-long civil war, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon says in a new report.
Other issues could also lead to fresh conflict and Mr. Ban calls on all sides to make the necessary compromises, overcome their mistrust and put the country’s needs above their partisan interests.
“Rapid steps are needed to secure the integration and rehabilitation of Maoist army personnel in a mutually acceptable manner, which the United Nations would have liked to see prior to the departure of UNMIN in order to avoid any vacuum,” he tells the Security Council in the report, referring to the UN Mission in Nepal.
The political mission, set up in 2007 at the request of a then seven-party Alliance Government and the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) to assist in the peace process that ended the war and monitor the management of Maoist arms and armed personnel, ends its mandate on 15 January. Other outstanding issues include the promulgation of a new constitution by 28 May.
“Nepal’s journey towards sustainable peace is not finished, and the prolonged political deadlock that has hampered progress has become a growing concern for Nepalis and the international community alike as key timelines and deadlines approach in the coming months,” Mr. Ban says.
“While the Government and the Maoists agreed in September 2010 that the remaining tasks of the peace process would be largely completed by mid-January 2011, this has so far proved elusive,” he writes, warning that other commitments in the peace accord have yet to be addressed and “hold the seeds of fresh confrontation” if expectations remain unmet.
The polarized relations and deepening rifts among and within the political parties and associated mistrust which remain at the heart of the stalemate are not insurmountable, he stresses, voicing confidence that the advances made in Nepal’s unique peace process will not easily be reversed.
“The parties can and must find a way out of this situation,” he writes. “They have in the past made major compromises, and they must soon do the same. None of them can afford to put the entire process and the fruits of their hard work at serious risk. No one side can expect to win at the expense of others.”
Mr. Ban notes that while the security situation is relatively calm throughout the country, it remains fragile in the Terai region with continued reports of killings and abductions by criminal and armed groups targeting the business community and sometimes young children, primarily for ransom.
On human rights, he reports no substantial progress in addressing impunity and ensuring accountability for violations committed during or after the conflict.