RNA PEACEKEEPING MISSIONS CASE: Ministry admits to agreement with UN

Kathmandu, December 25:

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs , last Monday, submitted in the apex court a copy of an agreement it had signed with the UN on sending Royal Nepalese Army personnel on peacekeeping missions. It may be recalled that when a case pertaining to the issue was first taken up , the ministry had told the court there was no agreement between it and the UN on deployement of RNA personnel. The RNA, which was also a party in the case, however, had told the court it did not have a copy of the agreement but the Foreign Ministry might have it.

The court asked the ministry to produce the agreement copy. The ministry said it did not have a copy and that it would write to the Nepal’s permanent mission in UN to get a copy, on which the Supreme Court gave it 15 days time to produce it or face contempt of court proceedings.

On expiry of the deadline, the ministry’s lawyer sought an adjournment of the case. The case is to come up shortly. The agreement , signed in 2001, states that RNA personnel deployed for peacekeeping mission to the United Nations Interim Forces in Lebanon (UNIFIL) are entitled to a salary of $ 988 per month. The agreement was signed by Michael Sheehan, Assistant General Secretary, office of the Logistics Management and Mine Action, UN, and Murari Raj Sharma, permanent representative of Nepal, on June 1, 2001. Acting Secretary of the Ministry, Nabin Bahadur Shrestha, however, told the SC that the government did not sign any agreement before 2001on deployment of RNA on peacekeeping missions but the government had started sending RNA personnel since 1958 as observers and to the UNIFIL on peace keeping missions since 1978.

According to the agreement, an RNA man so deployed is entitled to get $ 65 as clothing, gear and equipment allowance per month . Similarly the contingent personnel are entitled to receive directly from peace keeping mission a daily allowance of $ 1.28 plus a recreational leave allowance of $ 10.50 per day for up to seven days leave taken during each six-month period. The chairman of the Ex-Army Welfare Council, Ambar Bahadur Thapamagar, who had moved the Court four years ago, however told this daily today the RNA personnel did not receive the amount as per the agreement. He had sought a directive to the government by the SC to provide facilities to those RNA men deployed as per the agreement with the UN and had accused the RNA of misusing the Welfare Fund of the RNA. Asked how much RNA personal are paid, Thapa magar could not give statistics.