Last month, the country’s opposing political groups reached the so-called Four-Point Agreement on completing the remaining tasks of the peace process by 14 January 2011, among other issues.In line with that Agreement, the Security Council voted to wind up the UN’s special political mission in Nepal (UNMIN) on 15 January.Despite some important steps having been taken, “no breakthrough has been achieved,” B. Lynn Pascoe, Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs, told the Council today. “It is too early to conclude that the parties are on a course” that would see the Four-Point Agreement implemented by the January deadline.Three months after Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal stepped down, the country is still being led by a caretaker Government, with 12 rounds of voting in the Legislature-Parliament failing to produce a new leader.“The prolonged political stalemate in Nepal, most vividly symbolized by the continuing failure to elect a new Prime Minister, is compounded by persistent internal divisions within the main political parties, personal interests and calculations, and regional factors,” Mr. Pascoe underlined.In 2006, the Government and the Maoists signed the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA), ending a decade-long civil war which claimed some 13,000 lives.“Nepal is undergoing a process of significant political and social transformation and consolidation of its democracy,” Mr. Pascoe, who visited the country earlier this month, said today.In spite of the many strides Nepal has made, over time, the unity of the parties – both internally and in working together – “has frayed, eroded by the difference of ideology, perspective and the challenges of balancing the rules of competitive democratic politics with the need for sharing power and maintaining a modicum of political consensus.”Mr. Pascoe pointed out that several key commitments have yet to be completed, chiefly the adoption of a new constitution and addressing the future of the two armies.“If the parties fail to manage their difference in order to complete this common agenda it is they and the people of Nepal that stand to lose,” he warned.UNMIN was set up in 2007 to help Nepal hold elections for the Constituent Assembly, monitor the arms and armies for both the Government and Maoist sides, provide technical assistance to the Election Commission, and assist in monitoring the ceasefire.Intended to have a limited run, the mission was originally established with a one-year mandate, but its presence has been extended seven times at the request of the parties.“Each extension request was accompanied by renewed, and ultimately unfulfilled, commitments by the parties and the Government to expeditiously complete the remaining tasks,” the official underlined.He noted that UNMIN’s continued monitoring and presence are seen as key for stability. But, Mr. Pascoe added, “the mission has found itself subjected to controversies stemming from a deterioration in the political climate, misrepresentations of its mandate and the ensuing mismatch between the parties’ high expectations and the reality of UNMIN’s limited possibilities.”He said that many of the officials he met with during his visit to Nepal pointed to power-sharing as the most pressing concern, with a solution potentially generating progress in all areas of contention.They also told the UN official that although the constitution-making process has slowed down, “differences on the nature and shape of a new constitution were surmountable and could be bridged once the political climate improved.”Dialogue continues along Nepal’s political fault lines, Mr. Pascoe said, with the country’s officials having voiced hope that a breakthrough could be possible early next month.“There is no doubt that the 15 January deadline for UNMIN’s withdrawal has created a new sense of urgency among the parties, and more focused on thinking on how to end the prolonged stasis taking place,” he said.“It is still possible for the parties to meet their targets in time but, as I stressed to all those I met during my visit, it will require translating this new-found sense of urgency into decision-making and concrete action,” the Under-Secretary-General added. “The sooner these decisions are taken the better.” 14 October 2010Swift action to overcome Nepal’s political impasse is required if the Asian nation is to meet the January 2011 deadline to wrap up its stalled peace process, the top United Nations political official cautioned today.