6 October 2010The top United Nations political official arrived in Nepal today during what he called a “crucial period” for the South Asian nation as it moves forward with its peace process and the world body’s special political mission prepares to wrap up its work in the country. Last month, the Security Council passed a resolution to wind up the mission, known as UNMIN, on 15 January 2011, following the Four Point Agreement reached by Nepal’s opposing political groups on completing the final tasks of the stalled peace process by that date.“There is a lot of work to be done between now and then,” Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs B. Lynn Pascoe said upon his arrival.During his two-day visit, he will hold talks with the Government, political parties, UNMIN officials, the UN Country Team and others on what needs to be done to ensure a smooth transition.“I need to get a good feel for where the process is at the moment,” Mr. Pascoe said, voicing hope that he will have “very positive” discussions with the leaders of the parties and the Government.In 2006, the Government and the Maoists signed the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, ending a decade-long civil war which claimed some 13,000 lives. After conducting Constituent Assembly elections in May 2008, Nepal abolished its 240-year-old monarchy and declared itself a republic.Mr. Pascoe held talks today with Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal; Sushil Koirala, the new president of the Nepal Congress party; Pushpa Kamal Dahal, Chairman of the Unified Communist Party of Nepal-Maoist (UCPN-M); and Jhala Nath Khanal, Chairman of the Communist Party of Nepal-Unified Marxist-Leninist (UML).During those discussions, views were exchanged on what needs to be accomplished in the remaining time and where there needs to be greater focus. The Four Point Agreement was also a topic of discussion in the UN official’s meetings.That Agreement, reached on 13 September, calls for documents prepared in the Special Committee to be finalized; Maoist combatants to be brought under the Committee; completing the remaining tasks of the peace process by 14 January 2011; and extending UNMIN’s mandate for four additional months from its 15 September 2010 expiration date.UNMIN was established in 2007 and its mandate includes monitoring the management of arms and armed personnel of both the Maoists and the Nepal Army, as well as in assisting in monitoring ceasefire arrangementsLast month’s Council resolution called on the parties to expedite the political process and “work together in a spirit of cooperation, consensus and compromise in order to continue the transition to a durable long-term solution to enable the country to move to a peaceful, democratic and more prosperous future.”In his latest report to the Council on UNMIN, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon stressed that “the United Nations interest is to see UNMIN complete its mandated tasks and bring closure to its work in Nepal.”He pointed to resolving the future of the two armies – that of Nepal and the Maoists – and completing the drafting of the constitution as some of the main outstanding tasks in the peace process.The deadline for finishing the constitution has been extended by one year until 28 May 2011.