As PN went to press, the Nepali peace process was lurching towards another deadline, another confrontation and (possibly) another extension of the period allowed for agreeing a new democratic constitution (it has already been extended for a year to 28 May 2011). The Nepali Congress party is demanding that the 19,600 Maoist People’s Liberation Army (PLA) fighters be concentrated in seven camps, brought under the control of an all-party “special committee” and that almost all of them should be demobilised, with only 4,000 being brought into the Nepali security forces.
The comprehensive peace accord that ended the civil war said that a special committee would “integrate” Maoist ex-combatants into the Nepali security forces, or “rehabilitate” them. The Maoists have proposed that 10,000 former guerrillas be integrated. Congress has also demanded, among other things, that PLA members who took part in a Maoist political conference should be discharged in order to safeguard the political neutrality of state security forces.
Congress seems to have no problem with the existing, unreformed Nepali army, which carried out numerous atrocities during the civil war and which defied the elected Maoist government, leading to the Maoists’ resignation two years ago. If Congress’s demands are not met, they will not agree to another one-year extension of the constitution-making process, creating a political vacuum. Meanwhile, the UN is to stop distributing food to nearly a million people in hard-to-reach parts of western Nepal because of funding shortfalls.