KATHMANDU: Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai today floated a ‘preliminary’ integration plan at the Special Committee (for supervision, integration and rehabilitation of Maoist combatants), incorporating almost all that had been mentioned in the integration proposal forwarded to the prime minister by the Nepali Army earlier.
The document, which Prime Minister Bhattarai said was a tentative draft, however, failed to assuage the anger of opposition parties, especially the Nepali Congress and CPN-UML, as representatives of both the parties termed it a document against the Nepali Army Act and past agreements, including the seven-point deal. “The prime minister has floated a preliminary proposal for integration, which sounds so similar to what was reported about the earlier proposal forwarded by NA,” NC leader Ram Sharan Mahat told THT.
He said the document is silent about norms, process, ranks, eligibility criteria and even number of Maoist fighters to be integrated. “We had expected much but achieved nothing,” said Mahat, adding integration should be strictly based on the seven-point agreement, which calls for integration of Maoist fighters into the army without infringing upon the norms of the army and without bringing negative consequences in career development of existing officers.
The proposal floated by the prime minister has emphasised on the structure of the to-be-formed directorate general under NA for the integration of Maoist fighters, but lacks clarity on burning and contentious issues such as ranks to be offered to Maoist combatants, their number and eligibility criteria for certain ranks. The document has but solidified the Maoist party’s insistence that at least one brigadier general’s post be offered to Maoist fighters and has suggested more flexibility regarding training and bridging courses.
The document has premised on Clause 137 of the Nepali Army Act and set a plan of issuing a special decree by the government to set up the directorate general so as to offer one-level promotion to security personnel wishing to join a new force. Sources said NC and UML have taken serious exception to this particular provision as they believe it could have been inserted with malicious intention of ‘some influential players within the army’.
“Issuance of a special decree to set up the directorate general has been mentioned in the proposal, which is against the spirit of military act and past agreements,” said UML leader Bhim Rawal. According to him, such a decree is generally issued to form a separate force only when the country is facing some sort of trouble, maybe something like state of emergency. “We want integration of Maoist fighters into the army but don’t want a separate army within the national force,” he said.
The Maoist side, however, maintained that the proposal was prepared after holding consultations with concerned parties, including the army. “The PM had said it can be revised or made acceptable to all through broader discussions,” said Minister for Peace and Reconstruction Satya Pahadi. by LEKHANATH PANDEY THT