Saturday, April 14, 2012

Deal reached on technical issues of integration

KATHMANDU, April 15: In a major development towards concluding the peace process, the Special Committee (SC) on Saturday resolved all outstanding technical issues related to integration of the Maoist combatants into Nepal Army (NA).

A meeting of the SC at the prime minister´s official residence in Baluwatar attended by top leaders of all major parties, arrived at a consensus on all contentious issues including the formation of selection committee, rank determination and bridge course period for the Maoist combatants opting for integration.

According to Maoist SC member Barsha Man Pun, a cabinet meeting scheduled for Sunday morning will approve the seven-point agreement, paving the way for unhindered integration of the Maoist combatants into the NA. “Integration process will move ahead once the government takes necessary decisions,” Pun told the media.

As per the agreement, the parties agreed to form selection committee headed by the Chairman of Public Service Commission (PSC) or a member designated by the PSC chairman for the selection of officer-level candidates.

The Committee will include a special class officer from the Military Service, first class officer from Defense Ministry, three technical experts nominated by the Chief of Army Staff as members while a first class officer from Military Service will act as a member secretary of the Committee.

Likewise, a separate selection committee headed by second class gazetted officer from military service will be formed to choose non-officer level candidates. The committee will include minimum of two experts from the NA, one gazetted officer each from the PSC and from military service as members.

Likewise in regards to the training period for the Maoist combatants opting for integration into the NA, the SC agreed on nine-month long bridge course training for the officer level and seven-month long training for non-officer level candidates. The combatants will have to undergo additional three-month long rank-specific training.
Currently, an officer cadet of the NA undergoes a 20-month long training while it is nine months for non-officer level.

Party leaders said, the rank of the Maoist combatants would be determined as per the seven-point agreement of November 2011 by taking into account the number of years each Maoist combatant served with the Maoist army.

“The structure and the leadership of the proposed directorate general will be determined based on the number and rank of Maoist combatants who pass through final selection process,” said Ram Sharan Mahat of Nepali Congress.

As per the seven-point agreement, there will be four separate directorates namely National Development Directorate, Industrial Security Directorate, Forest and Environment Conservation Directorate and Disaster Management Directorate under the proposed Directorate General of the NA.

About 30 percent of the total strength of the National Development Directorate will be PLA members. PLA member strength in Forest and Environment Conservation Directorate will also be around 30 percent and 20 percent each in Industrial Security Directorate and Disaster Management Directorate. Remaining members in these directorates will be filled in from the NA and the police force.

Though the Special Committee agreed to bring Maoist cantonments, combatants and containers under the government on April 10, parties were at odd over the issue related to rank determination, composition of selection committee, General Directorate and standard norms for the Maoist combatants choosing integration.

A task force comprising Barsha Man Pun, Minendra Rijal of the NC, Bhim Rawal of the UML and Jitendra Dev of United Madhesi Democratic Front were given the responsibility to settle the issues.

Rawal said the SC took a decision after a proposal prepared by the Task Force was unanimously endorsed by the top leaders of various parties. “We believe the integration process will move ahead unhindered and there are no remaining differences among parties,” he said.

According to another SC member Raj Kishor Yadav, the meeting decided to give necessary directives to the army not to bar the PLA men who have received minor scars from integration.

“There has been an agreement not to take PLA men who have been found guilty of serious human rights violation,” he further said.

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