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In Nepal, UN's Martin Balances Maoists and Snakes in the Camps, UNDP Makes Rebels "Allergic"

Byline: Matthew Russell Lee of Inner City Press at the UN: News Analysis

UNITED NATIONS, July 26 -- "This is not a matter for political compromise or horse-trading," Ian Martin, the UN's envoy to Nepal, told Inner City Press on Thursday. He was referring to the Maoists' objections to the disqualification of a "substantial" percentage of those they sought to register as combatants.

   Rather than accept documents which Martin called "unreliable," the process includes an interview to show compliance with two agreed tests: that the person was born after May 25, 1988, and was not recruited after May 25, 2006.

            It has been reported that of the 3200 applicants in the first cantonment site at Ilan, 1300 were disqualified. Inner City Press asked Ian Martin if these figures are "in the ballpark." Martin said the UN has agreed not to make the number public until the conversations with the Maoist leadership on the issue are finished, since those "might have some minor impact on the figures." Video here, Minute 11:07 to 18.

            In the UN's mission in Nepal, Martin is walking a fine line, in ways not done by many other UN missions. In the Democratic Republic of Congo, for example, UN envoy William Lacy Swing has often been called viceroy, even as indiscipline continues to haunt MONUC. In Cote d'Ivoire, both UN envoys ran afoul of president Laurent Gbagbo, and now the envoy post has been left empty for months.

            Still not empty -- of snakes -- are the Maoist cantonment sites. Inner City Press has previous asked about this "snakes in the camps" issue, and Martin said that while it is a responsibility of the government of Nepal, the UN would be involved, in the run-up (then) to the monsoon season. Now that season has arrived, making travel by road and even helicopter difficult. Martin said that, unlike combatants, he can't give a count of the snakes in the camps, or any assurance that they will be eliminated. There are, however, more permanent structures.

            When asked for his view on if the Maoist youth group should, as they've requested, be made part of the security force for the November 22 election, Mr. Martin said that there is a need for temporary police. "It is important that the political parties agree over the arrangements." Mr. Martin's answers on Thursday were as diplomatic as always.

Rice production the timeless way in Nepal (UNDP buffoonery not shown)

            The UN Development Program, on the other hand, caused some disruption to the peace process by circulating -- to a Maoist commander, no less -- a report about disarmament in Sudan. There's only one problem: the Maoists in Nepal have not agreed to disarm, only to "weapons separation and monitoring." Ian Martin on Thursday said that the Maoists are "allergic" to the word disarmament, and that "a UNDP official" passed the disarmament survey to a Maoist commander.

            The result of UNDP's blithe spreading of inapposite "best practices" was a protest by Maoist commander Prachanda that the UN is trying to weaken the Maoists in advance of the elections now scheduled for November 22.

            And what has UNDP had to say about its foul-up? We don't know, as UNDP does not answer any questions. The international community's tax money at work...

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Click here for a Reuters AlertNet piece by this correspondent about the ongoing National Reconciliation Congress in Somalia.

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