Nepalese political leaders today inched forward on the stalled peace process as they agreed to bring the arms and the cantonments of the former Maoist guerrillas under the direct control and supervision of the national army.
Amid mounting pressure on the government to conclude the 2006 peace process,leaders of ruling UCPN-Maoist and the main opposition parties,Nepali Congress and CPN-UML,decided to hand over the arms and the cantonments to the Nepal Army.
The decision was taken during the crucial meeting of the Special Committee on Army Integration (SCAI),according to Nepali Congress leader Ramsharan Mahat,who was also present during the talks.
The meeting was attended by Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai,Maoist chief Prachanda,Nepali Congress general secretary Krishna Sitaula and central committee member of the party,Ram Sharan Mahat,CPN-UML chairman Jhala Nath Khanal and leaders of Joint Democratic Madhesi Front.
The 15 Maoist cantonments,the weapon containers would come under direct control and supervision of the Nepal Army from today,according to Mahat.
Thirteen of the total 28 cantonments,where nearly 20,000 former Maoist guerrillas were housed since the end of the decade-long insurgency in 2006,have been vacated a mont ago.
As per a seven-point deal among the main political parties,it was agreed to integrate 6,500 Maoist combatants in the Nepal Army as part of the ongoing peace process.
The crucial decision comes amid stepped up pressure by the main opposition parties to expedite the integration of the former combatants with the army,a key part of the peace process.
The political deadlock has delayed the drafting of a new constitution which must be completed by May 27 deadline,when the term of Nepal parliament expires.
The landmark peace process has also been stalled due to the failure of the political parties to agree on the form of governance and federal structure.
The Maoists emerged as the single largest party following the landmark Constituent Assembly elections in 2008 and are leading their second coalition government.