The High Level Political Mechanism (HLPM) has recently been addressing some major issues in the Nepali peace process. The mechanism has decided to deal with the critical issues in a package. They are:

  1. Review of past agreements
  2. Building the environment of trust and confidence
  3. The move of the President for restoration of the Chief of Army and subsequent political deadlock
  4. Integration of People's Liberation Army (PLA-Maoist Combatants)
  5. Contentious issues in the Constituent Assembly
  6. Power sharing (which indicates a change in the government).
The above critical issues have been interlinked with each other and those are the major issues for the peace process of Nepal. The HLPM is led by the President of the Nepali Congress Party G. P. Koirala in which chairperson UCPN (Maoist) Puspa Kamal Dahal "Prachand" and Chairperson of CPN-UML J. N. Khanal are members. The current political dynamics indicate that the major critical political issues including the contentious issues in the Constituent Assembly (such as state structure, governance system etc.) are going to be dealt with by the HLPM. However, institutions such as the Constitutional Committee in the Constituent Assembly will not be discussed. The Constituent Assembly remains the legitimized institution where all negotiations should take place.

Mr B. Lynn Pascoe, the Under-Secretary General for Political Affairs at the United Nations, made a short visit to Kathmandu recently. His visit happened at an interesting time when the Nepali Congress and the government are criticizing the role of the UNMIN, particularly the integration of the PLA. The government is asking UNMIN to specify the exact number of PLA Maoist combatants inside the cantonments that they are monitoring. There have been suggestions that many of the combatants have already left the cantonments and money allocated for them by the government has gone to the Party's account - a charge the Maoists deny. The government has stopped the salary for the combatants for the last two months, arguing that the salary should be directly deposited to the combatants' personal account.

Concluding his visit in Kathmandu, Mr Pascoe criticised the political parties for blaming the UNMIN as a way of hiding their failures to manage peace process of Nepal. Referring to a clause in the tripartite agreement between the government of Nepal, the Maoist party and UNMIN, Mr Pascoe made clear that the UNMIN cannot share information about the number of Maoist combatants inside the cantonments.

From time to time, the Nepalese army is making a political statement or taking a political stand. This time the army issued an official statement clarifying their position regarding the issue of integration of Maoists. They stated that the are against the idea of integration of the PLA on the grounds that the integration of politically indoctrinated PLA combatants to the Nepali Army may lead to disintegration of the country as well as severely damaging the "disciplined, professional, competitive and apolitical" force. However, the army also states that if the PLA combatants come on an individual basis and fulfill the standards required, there is no objection to them enlisting. Meanwhile, the UCPN (Maoist) party has seriously objected to the political statement by the military, warning that this is a conspiracy to end the peace process.

Despite the efforts of the HLPM, the current political deadlock remains. All the while, the time for making a new constitution passes by.

Ambika Pokhrel, Nepal Local Correspondent. 18 March 2010