Kathmandu, Nov. 1
United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon addressed a special meeting of the Constitutent Asembly (CA) Saturday and extended support to changes that have taken place in Nepal. He also pledged continued support for peace, democracy and development.
In his address, Ban lauded the role of the political parties in establishing peace and democracy, especially their ability to overcome political differences in critical times. He also called upon the parties and the coalition government to continue dialogue and stay united.
International support to Nepal, according to him, would depend largely on how; quickly the peace process moves ahead.
Describing the structure of the CA as the most inclusive elected body in Nepal’s history, Ban highlighted the need to ensure inclusiveness while restructuring the state. "Constitution building is going to be extremely difficult as well as; rewarding," he noted. Meanwhile, United Nations Secretary General (UNSG) Ban Ki-Moon said that the most immediate challenge for Nepal was to integrate and rehabilitate Maoist combatants.
Addressing a press conference, after his meeting with Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal ‘Prachanda’, leaders of political parties and Constituent Assembly (CA) members, UN chief Ban called on the government to "move quickly on the formal discharge of minors and disqualified combatants."
Ban welcomed the formation of the special committee to supervise, integrate and rehabilitate the Maoist combatants. "I encourage the parties represented in the committee to ensure that it begins its important work as soon as possible," he added.
Ban, during his two-day visit, met with Prime Minister Dahal, President Dr. Ram Baran Yadav, Nepali Congress President Girija Prasad Koirala and CA Chairman Subash Nemwang.
"As your partners, we are taking many concrete steps. The UN Peacebuilding Fund, for example, has released US$ 10 million to the UN Peace Fund for Nepal. This money will finance local peace building programmes. It will also help to reintegrate former combatants, generate youth employment and put other measures in place," Ban said.
The concerted actions of the political parties together with civil society and other stakeholders were vital in bringing about the uniquely Nepal-driven political and social transformation, he mentioned.
"To that end, I encourage the parties to continue to work in a spirit of compromise and cooperation on drafting the new constitution, the future of the Maoist army and other key peace-building initiatives," Ban noted. "The CA is proof of Nepal’s remarkable progress and collective effort towards a new and better future."
He mentioned Nepal’s contribution in UN peacekeeping operations around the world for more than 50 years and said, "The United Nations greatly values Nepal’s contribution to peacekeeping operations as well as its continued and enhanced support."
Ban commended the bravery of Nepalese soldiers and recalled how Major Kabindra Jung Thapa died in June, 2005, for the cause of peace and human rights in Congo.
"In his valour, we can see the potential of all the people of Nepal to live up to Prime Minister Prachanda’s vision of this country as a ‘model of peace’," Ban said.
"Today, Nepal is the world’s fifth largest contributor of troops and police. And a Nepali is the Force Commander in the UN Mission in Sudan, one of our largest peacekeeping operations."
Addressing a gathering of the CA members, Ban called on all parties in the coalition government to maintain cohesion while continuing to work with parties outside the government in a spirit of cooperation.
"The Nepali Congress Party has made invaluable contributions to the peace process, most recently in its lead role in the Interim Government. Now that it is the opposition party, I hope that it will continue participating in key decisions. This will help ensure success," he said.
While urging the government to continue dialogue and consultation with other parties, Ban said, "All parties to the peace agreement must honour their commitments. All parties must respect the rules of democratic government and human rights."
Ban said, "You have been through many tests. Each time, you have overcome your differences. This is the democratic process in action. I am confident that you can minimise potential rifts through dialogue and compromise."
He informed that the UN Country Team would continue to help the government in its ongoing relief and resettlement efforts to the victims of devastating floods in August and September.
He added that he wished to assure PM Prachanda of his personal support and that of the entire United Nations system for Nepal’s political, economic and social transition. "As we do our part, I encourage you to do yours. Steady progress in the peace process will ensure international support," Ban noted.
He highlighted the need of acknowledging the truth of past human rights violations, and ending impunity and said that sustaining peace would also require efforts to heal the wounds of the conflict. "That means clarifying the fate of those who disappeared and compensating victims. It means enabling the return of displaced persons to their homes," Ban mentioned.
Ban said, "This is a tremendous opportunity to lay the foundation for a stable Nepal for generations to come. I urge you to give your grandchildren, and even their grandchildren, reason to look back with pride on your role in your nation’s history."
"I know that many Nepalis are facing hardships. There is literally and figuratively "no fat" in Nepal to withstand any additional shocks, such as a drop in vital development assistance or remittances," he said. "The people of Nepal have taken a stand for democracy and it would be especially inspiring for the entire world to see Nepal overcome its conflict and achieve lasting peace at home."
Responding to a query about army integration and their participation in UN peace keeping, Ban said that Nepal government should decide on this. "There is a standard criteria, and all peacekeepers need to meet this criteria and the standards of UN peacekeeping operations," he added.
"The integration of all the people for national unity is a very important policy, but who is to be integrated, how to be integrated, what to be integrated - that is what the Nepali government and people should decide."
Ban informed he had discussed the future role of UNMIN with the Prime Minister, the Foreign Minister and the President. "I understand that the Nepali government wants to see the extension of the mandate of UNMIN for a certain period of time, which needs to be determined and discussed by the UN Security Council," he said.
"But at this time I believe that, for a certain period of time, the UN will have to continue to assist the peace process of Nepal, for peace and stability, democratisation process, as well as development projects in Nepal."