-  Tuesday 02 June 2020

Nepal's Rebels Accuse Government of Delaying Army Integration

 -  Bloomberg

Jan. 10 2008, Kathmandu - Nepal's rebel leader accused the government of delaying the integration of his fighters into the Himalayan nation's army, saying the holdup may harm the peace accord that ended a civil war in which 13,000 people died.

Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala said earlier this week he opposes former guerrillas joining Nepal's army because he doesn't want the institution to become ``politicized,'' Nepalnews.com reported at the time. He suggested the rebels be recruited to a security force for industries, it said.

Koirala's comments are ``provocative'' and won't ``help the peace process,'' Puspa Kamal Dahal, the rebel leader also known as Prachanda, said yesterday in the capital, Kathmandu, according to Nepalnews.com. The premier should avoid ``inflammatory'' remarks before parliamentary elections that may be held in April, he added.

The elections are part of the November 2006 peace accord that ended a decade-long insurgency by fighters from the rebel Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist), which sought to overthrow the monarchy. Under the agreement, the Maoists returned 30,000 fighters to camps, stored 3,500 weapons under United Nations supervision and joined an interim government.

The government also agreed to integrate rebel fighters into the army when the peace accord was signed, Nepalnews.com reported at the time.

The confinement of Maoist fighters to camps ``with no end in sight'' is one of the failures of the peace process, the UN's special envoy to Nepal, Ian Martin, said in September. The lack of clarity on the future status of the former guerrillas is unsustainable, he said.

Election Postponed

The Maoists quit the Cabinet in September when other parties in the coalition government refused to immediately abolish the monarchy, causing elections scheduled for Nov. 22 to be postponed indefinitely.

The rebels agreed to return in late December when lawmakers said the interim constitution will be amended to declare Nepal a republic, subject to ratification by the first meeting of the newly elected National Assembly. The government also agreed to form a committee on integrating Maoist fighters into the army.

The rebels said Nepal must be made a republic immediately as supporters of King Gyanendra may undermine the election.

Gyanendra dismissed the government in February 2005 for failing to end the Maoist insurgency and ruled as an autocratic monarch for 14 months.

He was forced to restore parliament in April 2006 in the face of mass demonstrations and has since been stripped of much of his power. He is no longer head of the army and his income and assets are taxable under a resolution passed unanimously by lawmakers in May 2006 that turned Nepal, once the world's only Hindu kingdom, into a secular state.

Nepal is home to Mount Everest, the world's tallest peak, which attracts climbers from around the globe. It is one of the poorest countries in the world, where about 40 percent of the population lives below the poverty line.

Source: Bloomberg

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