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Integration only a few days away now

A soldier of Nepal's People's Liberation Army (PLA) walks in front of a Maoist camp at Shaktikhor cantonment in Chitwan, about 160 km (99 miles) south of Kathmandu, February 3, 2012. The first group of the 7,365 former Maoist rebels who opted for voluntary retirement instead of being integrated into the Nepali security forces were discharged on Friday. REUTERS/Navesh Chitrakar

N24 Correspondent, KATHMANDU: The prime minister-led Special Committee on Thursday agreed to launch an action plan based on the seven-point agreement within five days to start the PLA integration process. The plan is expected to be tabled at the next meeting of the special committee slated for Tuesday.

 

Army is expected to start the integration process once the plan is endorsed by all the parties. Leaders said most of the contentious issues have been sorted out and that the understanding to formulate the action plan is a positive development. “Maoists have finally agreed to start the process of integration,” said Nepali Congress leader Ram Sharan Mahat.

 

“They have realised that determining ranks before starting the integration process would be a premature step.” The decision was the result of an informal deal among major party leaders to kick-start the process. Parties were initially divided on the seniormost rank. The seven-point agreement signed in November last year commits to integrate a maximum of 6,500 combatants by forming a general directorate in the Army.

 

The deal upholds the standard norms of the Army but commits to certain concession on age, marital status and educational qualification for former Maoist combatants. “Top leaders have reached agreement on the issue,” said Finance Minister Barsha Man Pun. He added that the integration process will move ahead with the finalisation of the plan on Tuesday.

 

The Special Committee Secretariat will consult the Army and commanders of the Maoist PLA for the preparation of the plan. The plan will be based on another action plan submitted to PM Baburam Bhattarai last week by Chief of Army Staff Chhatra Man Singh Gurung, according to Pun.

 

The Special Committee has decided to provide a second chance to combatants opting for integration to choose voluntary retirement or rehabilitation packages, said NC leader Minendra Rijal.

Published Date: Sunday, March 25th, 2012 | 01:00 PM

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