KATHMANDU: Three major political parties are most likely to strike a package deal on issues related to the peace process and formation of a team of experts for state restructuring soon, sources privy to interparty talks said today.
With most of the thorny issues related to the Maoist combatants’ management, a crucial aspect of the peace process, already resolved, the package deal is likely to materialise in a day or two, Nepali Congress General Secretary Krishna Prasad Sitaula told this daily.
NC and CPN-UML held talks on the outstanding issues at the latter’s Parliamentary Party office in Singha Durbar this morning, while the Unified CPN-Maoist and UML leaders delved into them at Maoist Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal’s residence in Nayabazaar in the evening to make way for a high-level meeting likely to be held tomorrow morning. Sources said Maoist Chairman Dahal and Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai are planning to have the peace process agendas endorsed through a majority in the party despite Mohan Baidhya camp’s objection.
The package deal will include the management of Maoist combatants, formation of commissions on disappeared and truth and reconciliation, handover of properties seized during the decade-long Maoist insurgency to the rightful owners with due compensation from the government, dissolution of the paramilitary structure of Maoist wings and formation of an experts’ team for the resolution of issues of state restructuring in the new constitution, according to sources.
“At three-party negotiations, we forged consensus on crucial issues except the number of combatants to be integrated into the Nepali Army and amount to be provided under the rehabilitation package. I hope the deal will materialise tomorrow or day after tomorrow. I don’t think the UCPN-M will backtrack or betray this time,” Sitaula said. UML leader Bhim Rawal also said the parties will clinch the deal if the UCPN-M does not backtrack from the three-party understanding on crucial issues.
Sources said the three parties have already agreed on the issues of modality, norms and rank determination, which are crucial aspects of the peace process. The Maoist party has already agreed to have combatants integrated into the NA on individual basis and their ranks determined as per NA’s standard norms and prevailing rules, according to sources. Highest-ranking combatants are likely to land major’s position as the highest post in the army.
The parties have agreed to consider combatants, whose educational qualification is a level lower than the NA-stipulated requirement, eligible for assimilation into the army. They have also agreed to integrate combatants into the NA regardless of their marital status, though NA’s rule has it that a person should be unmarried prior to recruitment into its fold.
NA’s recruitment rule has it that a foot soldier should be aged between 18 and 21 years at the time of recruitment, but this rule will not apply to Maoist combatants. Fighters overaged by three years during the time of recruitment in the Maoist army can be eligible for integration into the NA.
For instance, those combatants, who joined the Maoist army at the age of 24 in a similar rank, can be assimilated in the army.
The parties have agreed to give non-combative role to the combatants. The fighters can be mobilised for development work, rescue work during natural calamities, forest security and industrial security. The combatants will have to complete NA’s bridge course and training before taking up the role. From THT by Mahesh Acharya