The Nepali peace process, which has followed the negotiated end of the 10-year civil war in 2006, continues to stagger on.
One of the biggest problems in the process has been the fate of 19,600 registered Maoist ex-guerrillas, promised integration into the Nepali security forces (or demobilisation and ‘rehabilitation’) as part of the 2006 comprehensive peace accord.
On 20 April, the second round of ‘re-grouping’ came to an end, with thousands of ex-fighters opting to retire. Thousands had already been disqualified by a UN-managed ‘verification’ process.
Balananda Sharma, coordinator of the all-party army integration special committee, announced that only 3,129 ex-combatants remained in Maoist cantonments awaiting integration.
Mysteriously, this is less than half the number (6,500) allowed under the all-party agreement signed last November. It is a third of the 9,000 ex-combatants who expressed a wish to join the army in February (see PN 2543).
Despite this, Maoist leader Pushpa Kamal Dahal (‘Prachanda’) is said to have publicly boasted: ‘We have laddu [sweets] in both of our hands after the integration.’
There are reports of violent clashes between Maoist officers and the lower ranks in the cantonments, in the run up to the 20 April announcement.
On 19 April, a group of previously-disqualified ex-fighters picketed Maoist party headquarters in Kathmandu.
It’s not clear how disaffection in Maoist ranks is going to affect the peace process.