Revolution in South Asia

An Internationalist Info Project

Nepal: Further debate on the question of armies

Posted by n3wday on July 3, 2009

UCPN_PLA_drill_NepalThis article was published on the Times of India.
Another army-Maoist row in Nepal

28 Jun 2009, 2049 hrs IST, Sudeshna Sarkar, TNN

Even as the Maoists sent their top two leaders of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) to Germany to learn how the two armies of West and East Germany were fused to form one national army so that the knowledge could be put to use during the merger of the PLA with the Nepal army, a fresh row has erupted in the republic over the contentious fusion.

After army chief Gen Rookmangud Katawal opposed the en masse entry of PLA fighters in his troops and set in motion a bitter battle with the Prachanda government that finally led to its fall last month, now the new dispute has the former guerrillas training their sights on Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal.

Last week, a section of the media reported that Nepal had said during an interview to British news agency Reuters that only 5,000 Maoist combatants would be admitted into the army. There are currently about 19,000 fighters, whose fate remains mired in uncertainty and controversy.
The reports have given addition ammunition to the Maoists, who have kept up their obstruction of parliament since last month and are toying with the idea of a new movement. They are said to have also upset the army since the integration process is to be dealt solely by a high-level committee comprising officials from the army, the PLA and the UN.

The growing controversy caused the Prime Minister’s Office to issue its first denial on Sunday, saying Nepal had not expressed his personal opinion but simply mentioned what none other than PLA’s former supreme commander Prachanda himself had said. “During the interview, the prime minister had not said anything on his own (about the integration),” the statement said. “Asked how the government would integrate the PLA with the army, he had said, we are fully committed to the peace agreement… We will honour the agreements that have been made… Till now, no homework has yet been done on the number of people to be absorbed in the security forces.”

The statement also added that the prime minister had said that he had been told by Prachanda that about 3,000-5,000 PLA fighters should be taken in the army. “If their own leaders confirm this thinking, there is no question of absorbing all Maoist fighters in the army,” Nepal had said, according to the statement.

However, it remains to be seen if the Maoists will buy the explanation. The row has also given them an excuse to attack an old enemy, India. The Maoist daily, the Janadisha, has alleged that Nepal came up with the 5,000 number after the Indian ambassador to Nepal Rakesh Sood held a secret meeting with defence minister Bidya Bhandari.

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