THT 10 YEARS AGO: SPA unity key to peace process success: Martin

Kathmandu, November 16, 2007

United Nations Secretary-General’s special representative in Nepal, Ian Martin, today said maintaining the unity of the seven-party alliance (SPA) was key to the success of the peace process here. He said the political parties and not UNMI determine the success or failures of the peace process. Martin, who is the also the chief of the United Nations Mission in Nepal (UNMIN), said the challenges that face Nepal’s political leadership are “serious but not insurmountable”. “I believe UNMIN is able to offer further support to some key aspects of the peace process without in any way compromising the Nepali ownership of the process,” he added terming lack of consensus among parties as the “stumbling block” to peace process. He suggested the SPA to conduct a review of the peace process and implementation of agreements, taking stock of the comprehensive peace agreement and other agreements to “improve the management and procedures” of the peace process. “By doing a frank assessment of the experience of the past year, the parties need to develop a new sense of common vision for the process, and a realistic and effective road-map of actions required for a successful constituent assembly election,” he told an interaction at Reporters Club today.

Plot to kidnap Rahul Gandhi foiled

Agence France Presse

Lucknow, November 16, 2007

Indian police said today they had foiled a plot by Islamic militants to kidnap a top politician reported to be Rahul Gandhi, scion of the country’s famed Nehru-Gandhi political dynasty. NDTV, one of India’s leading news outlets, said the three militants planned to abduct the telegenic 37-year-old federal parliamentarian to bargain for the release of scores of imprisoned comrades. Police would not publicly confirm the identity of the politician targeted by the suspected militants arrested after a tip-off today near Lucknow. Senior police officer Vikram Singh said the suspects “wanted to kidnap a very, very important political leader to create national and international pressure to secure the release of 42 terrorists.” Another senior police official said the men were arrested “following an alert from the federal Intelligence Bureau” that Gandhi was the target. Police identified the three suspects as Pakistani nationals and named them as Mohammed Abid, Mirza Rashid Beg and Yusuf. The men were caught after a car chase in which their vehicle got caught in a sand pit, police said. The men were believed to be members of the Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammed group fighting India’s rule in disputed Kashmir and had received training in Afghanistan and Pakistan-held Kashmir, police said.