Nepal Maoists leaving camps; UN concerned

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Kathmandu, Sep 15: The United Nations has expressed concern at hundreds of Nepal's former Maoist rebels leaving UN-monitored camps, saying it was a violation of a landmark peace deal with the government.

About 31,000 former rebels are housed in 28 camps under a November peace agreement, but hundreds have left the camps in protest at the living conditions and facilities.

Yesterday, many came out of camps in Nawalparasi in southwest Nepal, demanding to be integrated into the national army.

''This is a serious violation of commitments made in the agreement on the management of arms and armed personnel reached between the Maoists and their partners in the interim government,'' the UN mission in Nepal said in a statement late yesterday.

A senior Maoist commander, Janardan Sharma, said the protesting ex-rebels had returned to their camps in Nawalparasi.

The Maoists had also locked away nearly 3,500 weapons in metal containers under the peace deal that formally ended a decade-long civil war that killed more than 13,000 people.

The Maoist party maintains the camps with funds received from the government, as well as pay allowances to the former fighters.

Some of them alleged last month they were not being paid.

''We have provided money for their food, made arrangements for shelter and health care,'' said Peace and Reconstruction Minister Ram Chandra Poudel.

Nepal will vote in November to elect a special assembly, which will draft a new constitution for the Himalayan nation and decide the future of the monarchy the Maoists want abolished.

But the UN said respect for the pact was key to a free and fair vote.

''Implementing the commitments is essential to the overall peace process and in particular to preparing a free and fair atmosphere for the Constituent Assembly elections,'' it said.


Reuters
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