United Nations: Nepal, engulfed in a political crisis, asked the United Nations on Wednesday to keep its peace-monitoring mission in place there even though the world body had hoped to start withdrawing it later this month.
Maoist former rebels called an indefinite general strike in the Himalayan state last weekend, demanding that the government make way for a national unity coalition headed by them.
Under a 2006 deal that ended a decade-long civil war between the government and the Maoists, the United Nations has supervised compliance by the former combatants with an agreement on their arms and armies.
The current mandate of the U.N. mission, known as UNMIN, ends on May 15 and was meant to be its last. But Nepal`s U.N. Ambassador, Gyan Chandra Acharya, requested the Security Council on Wednesday to extend it for another four months.
In a speech to the council, Acharya acknowledged Nepal was "going through a difficult time," but added, "We are confident that we will be able to conclude the peace process with tangible progress in the days ahead."
"We need to build on the positive prospects to maintain the momentum. It is for this reason and also as we are at an important juncture of the peace process, the government of Nepal has decided to seek the extension of UNMIN`s mandate," he said.
The 250-strong UNMIN has arms monitors based at camps for former Maoist fighters where weapons are stored and at a weapons’ storage site in a Nepal army barracks. More than 19,000 ex-fighters remain at the camps, waiting to be absorbed into the security forces or civilian life.
In January, the Security Council asked Nepal to make arrangements to take over UNMIN`s monitoring duties. But U.N. special envoy to Nepal Karen Landgren told the council Nepalese officials had told the mission "that alternative monitoring arrangements were not feasible."