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UN to probe unregistered Maoist arms in Nepal

Written by: Staff
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Kathmandu, Mar 14: The United Nations said it would investigate reports that thousands of Nepal's former Maoist fighters and their arms were still outside camps monitored by it under a landmark peace deal.

Nepal's multi-party government and Maoists agreed in November to end a decade-old conflict in which more than 13,000 people were killed.

Under that deal the Maoists have joined an interim parliament after confining their 31,000 fighters and nearly 3,500 weapons in cantonments monitored by the UN.

However, Maoist chief Prachanda was quoted by Nepali media as telling a public meeting on Monday that thousands of his fighters and their arms could not be registered because they did not meet UN standards.

A Maoist spokesman denied Prachanda's remarks, but the UN said it remained concerned.

''Any reports of unregistered Maoist army weapons outside the cantonment sites will be investigated,'' it said in a statement late yesterday.

''Any such unregistered weapons would be treated as a violation of existing agreements and be illegal,'' it said.

The UN said all unlicensed firearms still in the community, whether held by the Maoists or by other groups or individuals, should be brought under the control of the police to help hold free and fair elections for the constituent assembly, due in June.

That assembly, a key demand of the Maoists, will map the embattled nation's political future including that of the monarchy the Maoists fought to topple since 1996.

Reuters

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