On 14 September, Nepal’s tortuous peace process entered a new phase as the Maoists and the other main parties agreed to extend the peace process, pledging to “take up the remaining tasks of the peace process” and complete them by 14 January 2011 (they were meant to have been concluded by May 2010).
The breakthrough came with concessions by both the Maoists and the establishment parties. In a rebuff to the Nepali army, which had been campaigning to restrict the mandate of the UN mission in Nepal, UNMIN was given an unconditional four-month extension with no reduction in its mandate. It still monitors the army as well as the Maoist forces.
In return, those Maoist forces, which have been confined to UN-monitored camps with their weapons under a UN seal, were officially transferred to a government authority on 16 September, with the cantonments shortly to be run according to a new depoliticised regime.
The six-party “special committee” charged with overseeing the integration and demobilisation of the former guerrillas is being boosted by the addition of representatives from the army, police, armed police force and the Maoist people’s liberation army (PLA).
It is unclear whether these changes will overcome the impasse between the army, which refuses to accept PLA members in any numbers, and the Maoists, who ended the civil war because they were promised in the 2006 “comprehensive peace agreement” that PLA fighters would be integrated into the army.
Also on 17 September, the Maoists (who hold the largest number of seats in parliament) ended their attempt to have their leader, Prachanda, elected prime minister, opting for a national unity government, if one can be achieved.