In keeping with its public commitment made before the Prime Minister elections, the Unified Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) has handed over the keys of containers with weapons to the Special Committee for Supervision, Integration and Rehabilitation of Maoist combatants on Thursday evening. The arms containers are spread across cantonments where combatants of the Maoist People’s Liberation Army reside. PLA commanders handed over the keys to members of the Special Committee monitoring teams.

Maoist chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal ‘Prachanda’ met divisional commanders of the PLA and instructed them to implement the decision. On Wednesday, chairing the first meeting of the Special Committee in his capacity as the Prime Minister, Dr. Baburam Bhattarai had declared Maoists would give the keys. The Nepali Congress had long demanded that actual transfer of control over weapons to the all party committee.

But the Maoist decision was opposed by the party’s senior vice chairman Mohan Vaidya ‘Kiran’, who claimed this is a ‘conspiracy to dissolve the PLA’. Speaking to a local television channel, Mr. Kiran said, “This was very sudden, and the decision was not communicated to us at all. The handover of keys should have happened after an agreement on numbers, modality and other details related to integration of the combatants.” Known as a Maoist dogmatist, Mr. Kiran however clarified that he was not against the peace process and wanted ‘respectful integration’.

U.S. welcomes decision

The U.S. has welcomed the Maoist decision to handover the keys. In a statement, the U.S.embassy in Kathmandu said, “This is a promising step and we hope it signals the commitment of the UCPN-M to continue moving forward to complete the peace process.” The statement added, “Doing so, however, will require that the UML, the Nepali Congress, and all other political actors respond with similar flexibility and constructive commitment.”

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