Nepal’s peace process heading towards progressive path -By Sweta Baniya
At a time when there is need of putting the pedal to the metal to conclude the constitution drafting process, Nepal’s peace process is providing hope as it is heading towards a progressive path so as to support the constitution drafting.
Nepal’s Constituent Assembly’s life is just 47 days which means that there is an urgency to speed up the works by the Nepali lawmakers and leaders for timely conclusion of the historical twin tasks of the nation.
On Tuesday, the Army Integration Special Committee (AISC) decided to bring Unified Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) (UCPN-M) combatants from People’s Liberation Army (PLA) cantonments, their arms container, under the government’s control.
The situation has become ironic as the PLA fighters who were fighting against the army under the UCPN-M command has now been taken over by the same Nepal Army.
The AISC had to take such decision to come over the tensions rising up in the PLA cantonments and provide it security as the ex- rebels were turning to revolt challenging the authority.
Any bad if happened in these PLA camps would have a negative connotation to the peace process.
After the farewell of the voluntarily retiring combatants that started on Feb. 3, the one by one closure of the 28 cantonments that had been home to the former combatants since the peace process started was decreased to 15.
As per the AISC’s decision, all the former combatants, the cantonments and everything in the cantonments, arms stored in the containers will now be brought under the government via Nepal Army as well as the Armed Police Force.
The responsibility of cantonment’s security has been given to the Nepal Army and the government is set to issue a “code of conduct” for the former combatants.
Also the AISC has said that before beginning the army integration process, the option of “voluntary retirement” will still be opened and that those who will be obliged to opt for the retirement will be given a choice for “rehabilitation or voluntary retirement”.
With these decisions, the peace process in the country has paced up and the hope of early conclusion of it has risen up.
Moreover, there are still ongoing debates among the political parties regarding the rank and the number of the combatants to be integrated which is in need to be sorted out as there is least time for debate to continue.
As per the seven point deal reached by the political parties, only 6500 combatants would be allowed to get integrated however those choosing integration exceeds 9000.
Among 19,000 former PLA combatants, only 7,365 combatants had chosen for the voluntary retirement.
The PLA combatants who used to reside in the cantonments have fought in the war for almost ten years under the UCPN-M’s leadership. The war that had started in the year 1996 ended in the year 2006.
The former combatants have been living inside the camps after the peace process was signed ending the 10-year long war in 2006.
With the latest progress made on the peace process, the hope for the timely promulgation of the constitution has also arisen.
The Supreme Court has given the verdict that there would be no any further extension of the Constituent Assembly (CA) deadline which has already been extended for four times since its formation in May 28, 2008.
Thus, it has now 47 more days to conclude the peace process and deliver a pro-people constitution.
The conclusion of peace process and constitution drafting remains a vital challenge to the political leaders as it is the only key expected to end the ongoing “transition” in the nation. (Source : KATHMANDU, April 11 (Xinhua))