Agreement over Maoist combatants' integration

Breaking a political deadlock that has lasted more than three years, Nepal's political parties arrived at a historic agreement on the peace process, Constitution writing and power-sharing late on Tuesday evening.

The Unified Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist), the Nepali Congress (NC), the Communist Party of Nepal (Unified Marxist Leninist), and the Madhesi parties settled the future of 19,602 Maoist combatants, agreeing to integrate a maximum of 6,500 fighters into the Nepal Army (NA) and provide rehabilitation and cash packages to the rest.

According to the deal, the former combatants would be integrated in a newly-created special directorate under the Nepal Army, which will also include NA soldiers and personnel from other security forces. The directorate will be responsible for development works, industrial security, forest security, and disaster relief. Combatants will be integrated on an individual basis, and will have to meet the norms of the security force. But there will be flexibility on age, marital status, and educational qualification. To determine ranks, the norms of the security organs will be taken into account. There will be bridging and educational courses for the combatants.

Those combatants who opt for voluntary retirement will get between $6,300 and $10,000 approximately, depending on their rank. There will be packages between $7,600 and $11,400 for those who prefer rehabilitation. Maoist weapons will come under the government.

The Maoists have also committed to return property confiscated during the insurgency.

A Truth and Reconciliation Commission, Disappearances Commission, a high-level political mechanism to oversee the peace and Constitution process, and an experts' team to address state restructuring issues would also be constituted. The parties have also agreed to complete the process of regrouping of combatants by November 23, and prepare the first draft of the Constitution by November 30.

While not in the agreement, sources said a power-sharing arrangement had also been worked out, whereby the NC will lead the government which will hold elections after Constitution promulgation.

Leaders expressed optimism that the agreement would enable the successful conclusion of political transition in Nepal. A faction of the Maoists, led by vice-chairman Mohan Vaidya ‘Kiran', however opposed the deal terming it “anti-people”.

Keywords: Nepal politics

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