Nepal Maoists unveil road map to disband guerrilla army


Kathmandu : Under tremendous public pressure and yet unable to bring down the government, Nepal’s opposition Maoist party has unveiled a road map to disband its guerrilla army, a vital issue that has derailed the new constitution and paralysed the peace process.

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Maoist chief and supreme commander of its People’s Liberation Army, Pushpa Kamal Dahal Prachanda has drawn up a four-month plan to empty the PLA camps, a process that was to have been started in 2006 and ended within six months.

The Janadisha daily, a Maoist mouthpiece, Thursday gave details of the plan.

The former rebels are now asking the ruling parties to seek the opinion of their over 19,600 combatants whether they would like to join the national army or be rehabilitated.

The process can be completed by mid-June and the fighters can be segregated in separate camps till they are fitted according to their desire within four months.

Prachanda has also pledged to dismantle the camps of the party’s controversial youth wing, the Young Communist League, which is accused of being the paramilitary wing of the once underground party.

In return, the Maoists are asking for the formation of a commission that will disclose within two months the fate of nearly 1,000 people who went missing during the “People’s War” and are feared to have been killed by security forces or the former rebels themselves.

The concession about the fighters comes after the Maoists failed to force Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal to resign and had to call off a general strike after six days.

The party, which fought the state successfully for a decade, received another blow when the Supreme Court Wednesday settled a court dispute in favour of the Nepal Army.

The army had sought to make fresh recruitment, which was opposed by the Maoists on the ground that as per a peace agreement signed in 2006, both sides were to refrain from fresh hiring.

The apex court said since the vacancies were for technical posts like doctors and engineers, the army could go ahead. It remains to be seen if the Maoist road map will be accepted by the ruling parties.

The main sticking point is the number of PLA fighters to be inducted into the national army.

While the former rebels want an en masse induction, the ruling parties say the Maoists inflated the size of the PLA and are entitled to have only 3,500-4,000 combatants taken in the regular army.

Time is running short for both the state and the Maoists with the UN supervising agency that is monitoring the Maoist camps nearing the end of its tenure. After an extension, the UN Mission in Nepal will now monitor the PLA till mid-September, within which the UN member countries want the fate of the PLA to be decided.

The PLA dispute has made it certain that Nepal will fail to get a new constitution by May 28, a failure that will trigger a constitutional crisis with the dissolution of parliament unless the government declares a state of emergency or amends the constitution to extend the deadline.