Arms bid against peace pact: UN

KATHMANDU: Amidst the growing controversy over the resumption of Indian military assistance to Nepal, the UN today said such a gesture would violate the peace pact.

The row was triggered on Tuesday when Defence Minister Bidhya Bhandari met her Indian counterpart AK Antony in New Delhi during her week-long visit to the neighbouring country, when she reportedly asked India to resume military assistance and training it had suspended four years ago.

The UN Mission in Nepal (UNMIN), the UN's political mission that has been supervising the arms and combatants of the Maoists since the signing of the peace agreement in 2006, said it “strongly discourages any activities, either by the Nepal Army or the Maoist Army that may be constituted as a violation of Article 5.3 of the Agreement on Monitoring the Management of Arms and Armies”. The article, which details the steps that can be construed as a violation of the peace pact, include recruitment of soldiers and replenishment of military equipment.

On Thursday, when UNMIN chief Karin Landgren held a press conference in New York to announce that her organisation had been granted a six-month extension by the UN Security Council, she was asked about the UN stand on the possible resumption of arms sale to the Nepal Army by India. Landgren was reported as saying that an arms sale would contravene the pact.

UNMIN spokesman Kosmos Biswokarma said before Bhandari left for India, she had a regular meeting with Landgren during which the UNMIN chief had expressed concern about the government violating the peace pact.

“Recruiting or buying weapons or upgradation of any kind by either the Nepal Army or the Maoists without the issue being discussed by the high-level monitoring committee is a violation of the pact,” Biswokarma said. “The possible resumption of Indian military assistance has not been discussed in the monitoring committee.”

Meanwhile, UN Security Council has extended its mission in Nepal by another six months at the request of the Nepal government and asked all political parties to work together and expedite the peace process.

The mandate of the United Nations Mission in Nepal or UNMIN has been extended till January 23, 2010. In its resolution unanimously adopted by the 15-member body, the Security Council said UNMIN would assist in the management of arms and armed personnel in line with the June 25, 2008 agreement between political parties in Nepal.

Welcoming the progress achieved so far, the Security Council, however, called on all political parties in Nepal to expedite the peace process and to work together in a spirit of "cooperation, consensus and compromise to continue the transition to a durable long-term solution to enable the country to move to a peaceful, democratic and more prosperous future".

The Council called on the government to create conditions conducive for the completion of UNMIN's activities by the end of the current mandate, including implementation of the 25 June 2008 agreement, in order to facilitate the Mission's withdrawal.