Oracle unbetrayed

The SPA government and the CPN-Maoist have taken yet another major step towards the constituent assembly (CA) elections by signing an Agreement on Monitoring of the Management of Arms and Armies (AMMAA). The accord, signed on Tuesday by Krishna Prasad Sitaula and Krishna Bahadur Mahara, the respective coordinators of the government and Maoist negotiating teams, should speed up the process of promulgating the interim constitution, which, in turn, will lead to the formation of an interim legislature and interim government. Ian Martin, the personal representative of the UN secretary general, is to sign the agreement as witness once the UN’s legal unit approves it. The document, in consonance with the five-point letters to the UN and the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) of November 21, envisages four phases — reporting and verification, redeployment and concentration of forces, the barracking of the Nepali Army and arms control, and full compliance with the agreement.

What is expected of the parties concerned is a speedy and faithful implementation of all agreements, the latest as well as the earlier ones. With the formal UN nod, the entire peace process would assume a new character, as the world body would be involved in monitoring arms management, the CPA implementation and the observation of the CA polls. This puts greater onus than before on both the government and the Maoists to demonstrate a much higher sense of responsibility in implementing their commitments, as the credibility of Nepal itself will be put to the test in the eye of the world. To make the performance of this duty easier, the two sides will have to strengthen their mutual trust. This, in turn, requires a larger vision for the country’s future. An acute understanding of each other’s problems and legitimate interests and the need to rise above petty concerns will be at a premium. The agreements and UN monitoring are crucial tests of the bona fides of all the parties concerned, more so of the Maoists.

Nepal will not fall short of funds to take the peace process to a logical conclusion and to undertake reconstruction and rehabilitation even beyond the CA polls. But it will have to fulfil certain norms to ensure the continued inflow of funds — remain committed to democracy, implement the peace accords faithfully, and utilise the money properly. Arms management will also give rise to the problem of rehabilitation of the Maoist combatants. Certainly, not all of them will be integrated into the national army — for example, those under 18 years of age will automatically be disqualified and some will not meet other minimum criteria. Proper arrangements should be made to engage them in productive sectors, at home or abroad. Given huge unemployment in the country and the upcoming need to integrate the Maoist fighters, the interim government will have to consider solid ways of creating more jobs, beyond those coming up automatically as a peace dividend.