More egg on faces of Nepal’s Maoist leaders – By Utpal Parashar
After being forced by circumstances beyond their control to hand over control of their former Peoples’ Liberation Army combatants to Nepal Army in a sudden move last week, Nepal’s Maoist leadership was trying to take credit and perhaps hoping for a happy ending.But that saving
grace was also denied to them by their former colleagues this week. Exasperated with their leaders for falling back of promises and ‘deserting’ them at a crucial time, most of them chose retirement with monetary benefits to joining the Nepal Army.
Though parties in Nepal had agreed on integrating the former rebels to the army as part of the peace deal six years ago, how many would join NA and the details of the important process was always a bone of contention among the players.
While Maoist leaders wanted a significant chunk of their 19,000 PLA men to integrate, other parties and also NA opposed this. The ensuing stalemate led to a delay of many years before the major parties finally agreed on the figure of 6,500 in a deal signed last November.
This was followed by a verification process in the PLA cantonments where 9,705 opted for integration and the rest decided on retirement and rehabilitation. More delay followed till the details regarding ranks, training etc were sorted out last week. But the Maoist leaders, who were thinking of using them to pressurise other parties on contentious issues of the new constitution, were forced to hand over the PLA men to the army when violence broke out in cantonments between commanders and their men.
Instead of admitting his helpless that prompted the move, Maoist chief Prachanda tried to put up a brave front and declared how the “audacious” step was needed to take the peace process to conclusion. (Hindustan Times)