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Disarming Nepal's Maoists

United Nations monitors have arrived in Nepal at the request of both the government and the Maoists to begin monitoring adherence by both sides to their commitments under the Comprehensive Peace Agreement. These commitments include the containment of Maoist arms and combatants to seven camps and the restriction to barracks of much of the Nepal army.

On January 15th, the Maoists are expected to begin placing their weapons in secure containers within their containment areas, monitored by the U.N. team. The Nepal army will store an equal number of its arms under the observation of U.N. monitors.

With the commencement of "arms management" on January 15th, the government of Nepal says that it will then announce an interim constitution, while a new, interim legislature is formed with Maoist participation. An interim government is expected to be formed sometime thereafter, that will govern Nepal until its constituent assembly meets following elections to that body next June. That assembly will then begin drafting a permanent constitution.

More than thirteen-thousand people have been killed since the Maoist insurgency began in 1996. U.S. Ambassador to Nepal James Moriarty says the Maoist rebels have yet to prove that they will live up to the terms of the peace accord. “Have they stopped violence?” said Mr. Moriarty “I don’t know. Kidnappings, violence and intimidation are continuing,” he said.

According to the Conflict Study Center, a Nepal-based non-governmental organization, Nepali citizens continue to suffer extortion and violence from Maoist rebels. A recent report by the center says, “Abductions of persons who do not agree with [the Maoist rebels] are still occurring and they continue to harass political leaders, human rights defenders, and journalists.”

Human rights activist Gopal Siwakoti says the insurgents continue to commit serious human rights abuses, including forcing children to serve as combatants. The owner of a tourism business in Kathmandu says Maoists extorted money from him by threatening to bomb his office. “Only a few days ago, we paid a huge sum of money to the Maoists and even their leaders and the government know what is happening but they are doing nothing about it,” he said.

The U.S. Embassy in Nepal says, “Nepal’s transition to democracy will only be damaged if one party feels it is free to advance its political agenda through violence and threats, despite its commitments to contrary.”

The preceding was an editorial reflecting the views of the United States Government.