Major breakthrough in integration process, Maoist PLA arms to be consigned to govt’s care by April 12 • Completion expected in two weeks

KATHMANDU: In a major breakthrough in the ongoing peace process, a meeting of the Special Committee (for supervision, integration and rehabilitation of Maoist combatants) today decided to complete the integration process within two weeks.

With the decision of the Special Committee to hand over combatants choosing integration to the Nepali Army and their weapons, stored in the containers, to the state within two weeks, the army integration process is finally set to commence, though some technical issues are yet to be finalised. The Special Committee meeting scheduled for Sunday morning is expected to iron out other differences related to the procedures to complete the integration process. Finance Minister and a Maoist member in the Special Committee, Barshaman Pun, said three decisions were taken today that include giving options for the integration, voluntary retirement and rehabilitation. All these three tasks will be completed by April 12.

He said the SC has directed the SC Secretariat to make necessary preparations to implement the three decisions and the meeting of SC scheduled for Sunday morning will finalise the necessary technical issues. Pun further said the SC members would study the procedural proposals to be presented by the secretariat. Maoist sources said through internal selection process, the party itself will come up with a list of some 7,000 combatants from among the 9,705, who they said would be qualified for integration as per the standard norms set by the NA. This will make NA’s job easy for further screening. The Maoist side will also select the PLA combatants willing for voluntary retirement and rehabilitation packages. The integration and voluntary/rehabilitation process will go simultaneously.

“Integration process begins tomorrow at a war-footing,” said Ram Saran Mahat, following today’s meeting, which he claimed was a ‘significant’ development on integration process that remained unresolved for years. Asked about the positions for PLAs, Mahat said NA itself will determine the ranks as per its standard norms. Secretariat Coordinator Balananda Sharma said firstly the combatants choosing voluntary retirement would be sent home with cash and, then, the combatants choosing integration will be sent to the recruitment places determined by NA and their weapons will be handed over to the government, which would ultimately hand them over to the national force.

Sources said the Secretariat has suggested that the Special Committee will remain as an observer to the integration process to satisfy the Maoist demands of its representation in the NA’s general directorate until further arrangement is made. It has also suggested selecting the combatants on the basis of Nepali citizenship certificates, putting on hold the records maintained by UNMIN. Besides, they have also suggested that the NA fugitives, who have now joined the PLA, should not be taken into integration. The combatants joining the NA will have to undergo the prevailing training periods.

Special Committee will resolve any problem that arises in the course of integration process, said sources. TIKA R PRADHAN from THT

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