Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Pre-conditions on second phase PLA registration unacceptable: Martin
Chief of the United Nations Mission in Nepal (UNMIN) Ian Martin on Tuesday said that the second phase of the Maoist arms, armies registration and verification should begin unconditionally.Martin further said that any pre-conditions on the issue would not be acceptable to the UNMIN.
The UNMIN chief made the statement during a press conference organized in the capital today prior to his departure for New York to brief the UN Security Council regarding the UNMIN's involvement in the peace process and the progress made in the last three months.
During the press conference held at Pulchowk's UN building, Martin said that he had already informed that Maoist top leadership that any pre-conditions would not be acceptable to the UN.
He commented that the UNMIN was preparing for the next phase of fighter's and arms verification but the process could not be started because of Maoist activities.
Martin's comment comes amidst the stalemate in the second phase of the registration process – initially slated to begin from today – following the Maoist's stance of proceeding with the registration process parallel with tackling the political issues.
He mentioned that the second round of fighters' verification would be crucial in identifying underage fighters as well as separating those combatants recruited after the signing of the Ceasefire Code of Conduct last year.
The UNMIN chief has also said that the living conditions inside the PLA cantonments were not satisfactory, adding that it was "crucial" that the condition of the camps be improved immediately.
In another context, Martin said that the deferral of the Constituent Assembly elections must not be taken as a sign of "calamity" or a guarantee of success.
He also expressed confidence that the interim administration would decide on fresh polls date in consultation with the Election Commission shortly.
Martin suggested that the time remaining should be used to resolve complex questions facing the peace process.
The CPN-M had refused to allow immediate verification of its combatants confined in cantonments under United Nations monitoring, citing "deadlock" in the political process, and poor living conditions of combatants - an obligation of the government.
earlier,The CPN-Maoist has refused to allow immediate verification of its combatants confined in cantonments under United Nations monitoring, citing "deadlock" in the political process, and poor living conditions of combatants - an obligation of the government.
In a meeting on Monday of the UN-chaired Joint Monitoring Coordination Committee, that comprises members from the Nepali Army and the Maoists' People's Liberation Army (PLA), Maoist representatives said they would allow verification immediately after the political deadlock is broken and the government fulfills the physical requirements at the cantonments.
The political process hit a roadblock after the Election Commission said it wouldn't be possible to hold constituent assembly elections, which were scheduled for June. Likewise, Maoists have been saying that the government hasn't released adequate budget to Maoist combatants for food and accommodation.
"Also, the government hasn't yet released the monthly salary of Rs 3000 for each combatant for a period of five months as agreed before the formation of the interim government," Nanda Kishor Pun aka Pasang, who is the vice-chairman of JMCC, told The Kathmandu Post. "Otherwise, the government wouldn't have been formed in the first place."
Pasang also questioned how verification could start when "the combatants don't have food to eat and place to live". "It's not true that we are blocking the verification process… Even the draft of an agreement that should be approved by the JMCC prior to the start of verification hasn't been readied."
Though the government has pledged to fulfill all requirements, said Pasang, the Finance Ministry hasn't released the required budget. "The Ministry says the number of PLA in the cantonments should be reduced to 16,000 to 17,000 and it says many of them aren't genuine PLA members," said Pasang. The Finance Ministry has however said Rs 840 million has already been released to the Maoists for the purpose. The JMCC is meeting later this week to discuss the issue.
The total number of Maoist combatants and weapons registered with the UN Mission in Nepal (UNMIN) is 31,152 and 3,475 respectively. On April 12, after completing registration of Nepali Army weapons, UNMIN had said it would start verification, the second phase of the arms management process, "shortly". Earlier in February, after completing the registration of Maoist combatants and their weapons, UNMIN had said verification would start mid-March. The deadline was later pushed to May 1.

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