The peace process is incomplete in Nepal nearly four years after the Maoist rebels signed a peace agreement with the government, ending a decade-long armed insurgency, says the UN.
“Too little attention has been paid to the peace process this year,” Karen Landgren, Special Representative to the UN Secretary-General in Nepal and head of the UN Mission in Nepal (UNMIN), which is monitoring the 2006 peace accord, told IRIN.
A 1996 Maoist uprising to overthrow the monarchy displaced more than 100,000 people and killed thousands of others over the next decade.
While the peace process saw a lot of progress during the initial two years, progress has stalled on the two most contentious issues – the rehabilitation and reintegration of the Maoist army and dismantling and replacing a centuries-old feudalistic monarchy system.*
There is a crucial need to adopt an action plan on integration and rehabilitation with a timetable and clear benchmarks, Landgren said, emphasizing the importance of detailed technical planning.
UNMIN is especially concerned since it has now only three months left to work in the country after having extended its mission seven times since its establishment in 2007 – most recently until next January.
Fragile but not dead
Local and international analysts said the UN concerns were justified, but that the situation was not deadlocked. “Of course the situation for [the] peace process is fragile but I don’t agree that [it] is at a breaking point,” CK Lal, a local analyst, told IRIN.
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Issues such as holding elections, electing an inclusive constituent assembly and bringing the Maoist rebels into mainstream politics have been major achievements thus far, said Lal.
“The peace process remains incomplete but that does not imply that we are headed to any sort of failure...” said another independent analyst, Mohan Manandhar. "Political parties still continue to engage in serious debates about the new structure of the state, such as whether the country needs a federalist system based on ethnicity or regional autonomy."
“Many commentators warn of coming anarchy, the establishment fears a collapse of the social order and fragmentation of the nation. But such fears are misguided,” states a recent report on Nepal by the global think-tank, International Crisis Group.
However, such optimism is not shared by the civilians outside the capital. “Citizens are increasingly disillusioned with the political process in Kathmandu,” said Sarah Levitt-Shore, country representative of the US-based research and advocacy NGO, Carter Center - Nepal, which is monitoring the implementation of the peace accord throughout the country.
Criticism of UNMIN
Lal told IRIN that fierce and widespread criticism of UNMIN was unjustified. “They have done a reasonable job within their limited mandate,” he said, explaining that UNMIN was simply an observer and that the peace process should be Nepalese-led.
UNMIN must report back to the UN Secretary-General, who has been asked by the UN Security Council for updates on the peace process, by 15 October. “By then, Nepal [will have] entered its major holiday season [Dasain festival] and only three months will remain of UNMIN’s mandate,” said Landgren.
She added that reintegrating the estimated 4,000 Maoist rebels still waiting in UN-monitored camps remained a “challenging task” for the parties to resolve by that deadline.
* This statement was incorrectly attributed to Landgren in previous version and has been corrected.