Nepal Maoist commander`s `secret` China visit sparks row

A "secret" visit to China by a top commander of the former Maoist guerrilla force PLA has sparked a political row in Nepal, with the UN agency tasked to monitor the former rebels caught in the crossfire.

Updated: Oct 24, 2010, 23:58 PM IST

Kathmandu: A "secret" visit to China by a top commander of the former Maoist guerrilla force PLA has sparked a political row in Nepal, with the UN agency tasked to monitor the former rebels caught in the crossfire.

PLA Deputy Commander Chandra Prakash Khanal and UCPN-Maoist leader Barsha Man Pun and politburo member Janardan Sharma visited China on October 15 without informing a special all party committee tasked to push forward the stalled 2006 peace process.

Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal today criticised the visit of the Maoist commanders to China as it was against the past agreements.

He underlined that the authority concerned would be asked how the combatants residing inside the cantonments visited China without informing the government and special committee, according to the myrepublica online, the website of the Republica newspaper.

He said the government would seek clarification from the UN mission over the visit.

The United Nations Mission in Nepal (UNMIN) is the monitoring body of the former combatants, and is hence accountable for their activities, Rakam Chemjong, the Minister for Peace and Reconstruction, said yesterday.

The former combatants, who are currently under the supervision of UNMIN, were not given permission by the government for their visit to China, he said.

The UNMIN was established as a special political mission in 2007 with a mandate to manage the arms and armed personnel of the Maoists and the Nepal Army.

The Maoist team comprising a dozen former Maoist commanders returned from a week-long trip to China on Thursday.

The Maoist combatants who are confined in the UN monitored cantonments cannot undertake political visits, Chemjong said.

As per the agreement reached between the Maoists and the government, the former combatants come under the jurisdiction of the Special Committee that is responsible for managing the former rebels.

Nepali Congress leader Ram Sharan Mahat also expressed concern over the development. He said it was necessary to investigate the combatants` China visit.

Mahat, himself a member of the Special Committee, said he will raise this issue in the meeting of the committee.

The country has been in political limbo since the June 30 resignation of Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal, which has stalled Nepal`s peace process and further delayed the annual budget, sparking fears of a financial crisis in the country.

Nepalese parties have been unable to elect a new leader despite a series of polls since Nepal quit under intense pressure from the Maoists.

PTI