Nepal’s peace process continues to stagger on. The 10-year civil war ended in November 2006 with an agreement that, among other things, Maoist guerrillas would either be integrated into the Nepali security forces or demobilised. This has been the trickiest issue in the peace process, with the army for many years refusing point blank to accept members of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA).
As previously reported (PN 2542), a compromise has been reached whereby only 6,500 of the 19,600 ex-guerrillas will be integrated, and they will be hived off into a new non-combat ‘directorate’ (dealing with ‘development-related activities’, forest conservation and so on). Two problems, not yet resolved, are that many more PLA members have asked to join the new directorate than agreed (9,000 rather than 6,500); and the regular army is refusing to accept Maoist officers at the ranks they held in the PLA.
As for those who are being demobilised, they are being paid rehabilitation funds of between £4,000 and £6,400. The payments are being made in two stages, one of a number of grievances. Shyam Bir Limbu, a guerrilla still suffering from wartime injuries, told the BBC: ‘We are totally dissatisfied. But we are keeping quiet because we think it was our sacrifice for the sake of peace and the constitution of Nepal.’ Fighters began leaving their camps on 3 February.
According to some reports, members of the Maoists’ paramilitary Young Communist League in the west of Nepal have seized party offices and demanded to be treated like the PLA, with the options of rehabilitation money or integration into the regular army.
The constitution is due to be agreed by 28 May.