20 January 2006

Secretary-General Dismayed by Arrest of Nepal Political Party Leaders on Eve of Major Demonstration

NEW YORK, 19 January (UN Headquarters) -- The following statement was issued today by the Spokesman for UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan:

The Secretary-General is dismayed by the latest developments in Nepal where, on the eve of a major demonstration planned for tomorrow in Kathmandu, the Government has arrested a large number of political party leaders and other critics.

The Representative of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in Nepal, Ian Martin, has raised the matter with the Government. OHCHR-Nepal officers have visited 97 of the more than 120 persons reported to be in detention.

The Secretary-General had repeatedly called for urgent dialogue in order to avoid confrontation, and for a bilateral ceasefire between the Government and the Communist Party of Nepal-Maoist. This appeal was not heeded, and the four-month unilateral ceasefire declared by the Maoists came to an end.

The Secretary-General once again appeals to all sides for calm, the suspension of fighting and the urgent initiation of an inclusive national dialogue.

* *** *