New Maoist demands halt UN arms verification in Nepal
Kathmandu | July 13, 2007 1:05:06 PM IST
The second phase of verification for Maoist ex-guerrillas in Nepal was put off indefinitely following preconditions set by Maoist leadership, local media reports said Friday.
The Maoists are now demanding that the government agree to a "package deal" to accept registered former rebels into the national army and police forces, the daily Himalayan Times reported.
The newspaper said the Maoists refused to cooperate with the verification until the government agreed to their demands during a meeting with Ian Martin, the chief of the United Nations Mission in Nepal (UNMIN).
The demands reportedly include political guarantees that the registered former rebels will be integrated into the security forces.
UNMIN spokesman Kieran Dywer said the verification process, which is already several months behind schedule, should not stop.
"Martin during the meeting said UNMIN is ready to go on with the verification," Dywer said. "And while other matters may be important, they shouldn't stop verification from going ahead."
In June, the UN completed the second phase of verification in one cantonment in eastern Nepal.
Unconfirmed reports said as many as 400 people were disqualified for being underage or recruited after the cut-off date May 2006, while an equal number of actual fighters did not turn up for the verification.
The UN acknowledged the disqualifications but declined to provide official figures.
During the first phase of verification, the UN registered just over 30,000 ex-combatants, a figure many believe was inflated with recruitment following a cease-fire between the Nepalese government and the Maoists in April 2006.
Human rights groups also say as many as 9,000 of the registered Maoist fighters are minors.
Under a peace agreement reached with the government, the former rebels agreed to keep their fighters in seven cantonments and 21 satellite camps spread across the Himalayan nation.
The Maoists were involved in a decade-long insurgency to convert Nepal into a communist republic.
Nearly 15,000 people died in Nepal's conflict, which formally ended with the signing of an agreement in November 2006.
Watch News Videos