Nepalis’ role in peace bid crucial: Martin

Kathmandu, October 20:

The United Nations can only assist and support the peace process in Nepal, said Ian Martin, Personal Representative of the UN Secretary-General, today, adding that the onus is on the Nepalis themselves to make the peace talks a success.

The UN cannot bring absolute guarantees concerning arms management, electoral process and ceasefire code of conduct and it will not intervene in Nepal, said Martin. However, the UN can coordinate support by the international community and be a part of “objective monitoring” during the peace process.

Speaking on the occasion of the 61st UN Day, Martin expressed optimism that both the seven-party alliance and the Maoists are committed to reaching an agreement during the ongoing negotiations.

He said that the UN headquarters in New York has to decide some matters regarding finding appropriate personnel for the monitoring team once its role is defined by Nepal. Likewise, “the UN team needs funding for monitoring work and we need support from the UN member states,” he said.

Asked whether the UN team is holding consultations with China just like he recently met Indian government officials in India, he said, “We are keeping China informed through its embassy here.”

Deputy Prime Minister KP Oli said no one should be allowed to go for elections “under the shadow of arms” and that people can caste ballots without any underlying threats. Lauding UN’s contribution in Nepal, he further said that the government was willing to extend support to Martin’s team.

Oli also expressed hope that bilateral talks with Bhutan will resolve the Bhutanese refugee imbroglio. “We need to resolve the problems facing Bhutanese refugees. We are waiting for Bhutan’s response for bilateral talks, which I hope will end the imbroglio,”

he said. Abraham Abraham, the representative of United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in Nepal, also expressed hope that the talks between Nepal and Bhutan would be positive and conclusive.

The UNHCR does not have a mandate to monitor the refugees’ return to Bhutan, he said.

Kul Chandra Gautam, Assistant Secretary-General of the UN, urged the Maoists to “focus on their positive and progressive social agenda and abandon violence, intimidation and extortion to regain genuine and retain public power.” He urged the Maoists to take a long-term view of what is in their interest as well as that of Nepal.

He said that the Maoists have a chance of emerging as a formidable political party if they adopt ballots instead of bullets.

Expressing concerns over the development activities being hampered, Matthew Kahane, UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator in Nepal, urged the seven-party alliance and the Maoists to “deliver services effectively and without hindrance.”