Shahid Malik provides new boost for peace in Nepal

from Department for International Development
Published on 19 Sep 2007
On the final day of his visit to Nepal, UK International Development Minister Shahid Malik met the Prime Minister, Mr Girija Prasad Koirala. At the meeting he stressed the continued UK support for the interim Government and the peace process and renewed his call for the involvement of all parties in the first democratic elections to the Constituent Assembly in 50 years. Mr Malik also met with Dr Bhattarai, the deputy leader of the Maoists in Nepal. The Minister announced that the UK will give a second tranche of =A34 million ($8 million) to the Nepal Peace Trust Fund, that includes support for the elections.

DFID: Committed to making peace work

Mr Malik said:

"The people of Nepal have been waiting to decide their own constitution for more than 50 years. It would be heartbreaking to get this close and to snatch it way from them once again.

"When I met Prime Minister Koirala and Dr Bhattarai, I spoke to them about the disappointment in Nepal, and across the world, at the news that the Maoists have left the Government.

"Both of them told me that they are committed to making the peace process work, and I am cautiously optimistic that over the coming days and weeks, this will be possible.

"For all the political parties, November 22nd should not just be about winning elections, but about winning the peace. Those I've met during my visit have said how much their lives have changed for the better since fighting stopped.

"Peace and development go hand in hand. We urge the Government to move forward with both. The UK as a significant development partner is committed to providing support for both in the years ahead."

Building Nepal's future

The Minister's visit continued with a trip to the Terai region yesterday. He visited Dirga primary school for three to nine years olds in Biratnagar. He met with the Principal Mr. Hari Sharma Biswas and saw how the school is addressing the challenge of inclusion, with 90% of its children coming from poor "Dalit" groups. He met with children learning to read and write, and saw the efforts to deliver Education for All in action. He said:

"The future of Nepal doesn't just belong to a elite minority but to all the people. I hope the children that I met will one day help to shape their country and I urge all parties to work for a better future for all Nepalis regardless of their caste, ethnicity or gender."

The Minister also visited a health clinic to see a Maternity Incentive scheme, and to witness the impact of DFID support through increased funding, which has helped deliver more medicines and better salaries to the health care staff..

Shahid Malik also attended a meeting of local political groups to hear the case for the inclusion of everyone into the political process, including women's groups, indigenous people and other minorities traditionally left out of power.