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Nepal Army, Maoists in face-off over recruitment

The repeated failure of Parliament to elect a new Prime Minister for a month has led to a situation in which the Nepal Army and Maoist combatants are inching towards confrontation....

The repeated failure of Parliament to elect a new Prime Minister for a month has led to a situation in which the Nepal Army and Maoist combatants are inching towards confrontation.

Within 24 hours of the Nepal Army starting the process of filling up 3,400 vacancies,the Unified Communist Party of Nepal-Maoists (UCPN-M) responded by saying that it will be recruit at least 300 per cent more combatants in its ‘People’s Liberation Army’.

“As the Nepal Army is violating the restriction imposed under the Comprehensive Peace Accord (CPA) against fresh recruitment,we are also going to start fresh recruitment in the PLA,” Deputy Commandant of the PLA Baldev said on Tuesday.

The UCPN-M and other parties are polarised on the issue of integrating and rehabilitating around 19,000 Maoist combatants currently under supervision of the United Nations Mission to Nepal (UNMIN). While Maoists want to be integrated into the Nepal Army,other political parties as well as the Army are clear that only those who fulfil physical and academic qualifications and are willing to give up political affiliation can be absorbed.

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The Nepal Army,however,clarified that the proposed recruitment will not take the strength of the Army beyond what it was at the time of signing the CPA and in no way did it violate the letter and spirit of the accord. “The recruitment process was duly endorsed by the Ministry of Defence,” said Army spokesperson Ramindra Chhetri.

However,there is speculation that if the UCPN-M chief Prachanda wins the Prime Ministerial race,that has remained inconclusive during the past three rounds of voting,he may annul the Army recruitment process. At the same time,all other major parties represented in the Madhav Nepal-led government were in favour of filling up the posts in the Army.

The announcement of the Maoist Deputy Commandant to start recruitment to the PLA is being seen as a message from the Maoists that they are hopeful of winning the Prime Ministerial race. Prachanda improved his support base during the voting on Monday. He secured 259 votes as opposed to 236 that the UCPN-M has in Parliament.

First published on: 04-08-2010 at 02:51:45 am
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