Nepal to extend term of UN mission by another six months
Nepal's main political parties have agreed to extend the term of the United Nations Mission in Nepal (UNMIN) by another six months while proposing to reduce its peace-keeping mandate, media reports said Wednesday.
The agreement came during marathon talks among the ruling Seven Party Alliance on Tuesday night, which had been called to discuss continuing opinion differences on key issues between alliance members.
Under the agreement, the UNMIN's term will be extended by another six months when it expires in mid-July, the Kantipur newspaper said.
However, the parties have proposed to reduce the size and mandate of the UN body, reported dpa.
"The term of the UNMIN will now be limited to just the reintegration of the Maoist fighters and management of their weapons," the newspaper said.
Until now, the UNMIN mandate covered other areas, including monitoring the peace process, cease-fire violations and the election of the constituent assembly as well as the political process.
"Within six months, the Maoist combatants will be integrated into the national army or other security bodies," the newspaper said. "Those who do not qualify to join the security bodies will be reintegrated into society."
Integration of the Maoist fighters, a key component of the peace agreement between the government and the Maoists, has been a contentious issue.
The Nepali Congress Party of Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala said in the past only those who met the strict criteria set for recruitment into the national army would be able to join the security body.
The Maoists maintained that all fighters verified by the UN should be integrated into the army or other security bodies.
Under Nepal's peace deal, over 31,000 Maoist fighters were initially housed in seven cantonments and 21 satellite camps spread across the Himalayan nation. Their weapons were locked up under UN supervision.
However, after two rounds of verification, the UNMIN said only 19,602 fighters passed the rigid process.
The verification process was intended to identify minors serving in the Maoist fighting force and those recruited after the peace deal was signed.
Almost 14,000 people died during the decade of communist insurgency which formally ended with the signing of a peace deal between the government and the Maoists in November 2006.