Vol. 5 Num 926 Sat. January 06, 2007  

Nepali rebel, govt arms registration to begin mid-January: UN

The United Nations will be ready to start registration later this month of Maoist and army weapons as part of an historic deal to end Nepal's decade-long civil war, a UN official said yesterday.

Under the peace pact formalised in November that ended the bloody insurgency, the government agreed to let the Maoists join the government in return for placing their arms and fighters in camps under UN supervision.

The deal also provided for the army to put one-third of its 93,000-strong force along with some weapons under UN supervision.

"Teams provided by United Nations Development Program are on a standby position to begin registration from 15 January, initially of weapons and later of combatants," senior UN official Ian Martin told reporters here.

Thirteen UN arms monitors had already arrived in Nepal and would operate in two teams, one from Kathmandu and the other from Nepalgunj, 510km west of the capital, starting Monday after completing training.

The Nepal army has agreed to store its weapons in one of its barracks on the outskirts of Kathmandu, he said.

More UN representatives were due to arrive in the next few days and the balance of the 35-member monitoring force so far approved would be ready for deployment as of January 15, he said.

The UN official said 111 Nepali ex-servicemen who served in the Indian and British armies will be "deployed to the seven main cantonment sites late next week" to enable a 24-hour presence at weapons storage sites until the arrival of a full UN team.