A meeting of the United Nations-chaired Joint Monitoring Coordination Committee (JMCC) was cancelled on Thursday after the Nepal Army (NA) said it would boycott the meeting if the issue of fresh recruitment into its ranks was not dropped from the agenda.

Three weeks ago, following a Supreme Court verdict that said the issue did not fall under its purview, the NA had announced vacancies for 3434 positions. The Maoist People's Liberation Army subsequently said it would open recruitment as well. The United Nations Mission in Nepal (UNMIN) has consistently called any addition of personnel in either army as violation of the peace accords.

The Supreme Court had also said the JMCC, a body constituted under the peace accord to monitor the management of arms and armies, would be a more appropriate forum to discuss the dispute. But the army has maintained that JMCC has nothing to do with the issue. “This is entirely under the jurisdiction of the Government of Nepal. We are following the interim constitution and Army Act,” said Army spokesperson, Brigadier Ramindra Chhetri.

The NA has also asked the government not to request the Security Council to extend UNMIN's tenure beyond its current mandate which ends on September 15.

In the past few days, Army Chief General Chhatra Man Singh Gurung has met the Minister of Peace and Reconstruction Rakam Chemjong, and the non-Maoist members of the Special Committee on Supervision, Integration and Rehabilitation of the former Maoist combatants. He is understood to have told them that UNMIN is no longer needed, the Nepal Army must be kept out of any monitoring, and the special committee could monitor the 28 cantonments which have former Maoist combatants.

A Kathmandu daily, The Himalayan Times, also accessed a confidential NA report, which blames UNMIN for “serving the interests of the Unified Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist)”, and accuses it of “double standards and misleading all, including the international community”.

Referring to the hypothetical 60-week timeline for integration and rehabilitation in a non-paper prepared by UNMIN, the NA report is quoted as saying, “The 60 week roadmap has helped the Maoists to delay the army integration process, and the Maoists seem to be adamant on extending the mandate of UNMIN at any cost. It has helped weaken the position of NA.” The report adds, “There is no need to extend UNMIN's tenure as the country is no longer in conflict.”

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