Maoist combatants briefly leave cantonment sites: UNMIN

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Kathmandu, Sep 15 (UNI) Maoists have violated their commitments given to the Nepalese government and their armed combatants have briefly left one of the cantonment sites where they had agreed to stay as part of last year's peace accord.

The violations took place even as Indian Foreign Secretary Shivshankar Menon began a two-day visit to the Himalayan kingdom for talks with Nepalese leaders.

Mr Menon will hold meetings with political leaders including Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala, on the political situation and the upcoming constituent assembly elections.

He will also meet Home Minister Krishna Prasad Sitaula, Foreign Minister Sahana Pradhan, CPN-UML General Secretary Madhav Kumar Nepal and Nepali Congress (Democratic) president Sher Bahadur Deuba.

A statement issued by the United Nations Mission in Nepal (UNMIN) expressed concern that Maoist Army personnel were observed yesterday morning outside the main cantonment site in Nawalparasi and its satellite sites in the western region of the Himalayan kingdom.

The UNMIN said it had deployed three mobile teams to monitor the situation.

''This is a serious violation of commitments made in the agreement of arms and armed personnel reached between the Maoists and their partners in the Interim government,'' the UNMIN said.

The mission said it had conveyed its concerns to the political and military leadership of the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) which advised that it had ordered the immediate return of the personnel to the cantonment sites.

Under last year's agreement ending the civil war, the Maoists had agreed that their combatants would be confined at the cantonment sites where they and their weapons could be registered and verified in the lead-up to the Constituent Assembly elections scheduled for November.

The UNMIN said ''While the verification process of Maoist Army personnel is proceeding well, implementing the commitments in relation to the management of arms and armed personnel without exception, is essential to the overall peace process and in particular to preparing a free and fair atmosphere for the Constituent Assembly election.'' UNI

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