The Nepali peace process managed to get past a major hurdle back in November when the Nepali army dropped its outright opposition to taking in (a limited number of) former Maoist guerrillas, and agreed to ‘integrate’ them in a new, effectively non-military, ‘directorate’ carrying out forestry and development duties.
Integration was required by the comprehensive peace accord (CPA) that ended the civil war back in 2006. Major issues remain, including the ranks to be given to officers from the Maoist people’s liberation army, and documentation issues. Perhaps as many as 3,000 ex-fighters gave noms de guerres to the UN during an earlier stage of the integration process, which conflict with the names on their official identity cards.
The peace process is now under strain as some mainstream parties insist that a new constitution (also required by the CPA) cannot be agreed until integration is complete (when all Maoist cantonments have been emptied, and all Maoist forces have been effectively dissolved). The Maoists would rather the two processes proceeded in parallel.
The all-party special committee supervising integration had been ordered to draw up a detailed plan for integration by 27 March, but few were hopeful as PN went to press.
On 27 February, a previously-unknown group, the United Ethnic Liberation Front, set off an improvised bomb in Kathmandu, killing three and injuring seven, the first bombing in Kathmandu since 2009.