Nepal: Maoist Protests Peaceful, UN Observes

NEW YORK–(ENEWSPF)–1 May 2010 – Today’s May Day protests staged by Maoists across Nepal have been organized and peaceful, with security forces also acting in a restrained manner, the United Nations human rights office in the country said today.

“Rights to peaceful assembly and speech were exemplified today,” said Richard Bennett, the Representative of the UN Human Rights Office in Nepal (OHCHR-Nepal), calling for any further public protests to be held in the same spirit.

“However, more importantly, the parties should avert the risk of confrontation and violations of human rights by taking concerted steps to bring the peace process back track,” he added.

Yesterday, the top UN official in Nepal, Karin Landgren, warned that the peace process has reached a “difficult phase.”

After today’s protests by the Unified Communist Party of Nepal-Maoist (UCPN-M), “the situation is unpredictable, and may seriously endanger the peace process,” the Secretary-General’s Representative in Nepal cautioned.

The Comprehensive Peace Agreement, signed in 2006 between the Government and the Maoists, ended a decade-long civil war which claimed some 13,000 lives in the South Asian nation.

After conducting Constituent Assembly elections in May 2008, Nepal abolished its 240-year-old monarchy and declared itself a republic. But the peace process has stalled recently, threatened by tensions and mistrust between Maoists, the Government and the army.

“There are grave concerns about the direction it may take in the coming days,” Ms. Landgren said.

The parties have expressed their willingness to reach an agreement, which she stressed must happen rapidly to prevent an escalation of the situation.

The country’s leaders and people, Ms. Landgren told reporters, have invested so much in the peace process that “it would be a shame and disaster to let this fall by the wayside,” underscoring the need to restore trust and confidence.