Nepal Maoists say they recruited 23,000 rebels after truce

May 6th, 2009 - 1:12 am ICT by IANS  

Kathmandu, May 5 (DPA) Private television stations across Nepal Tuesday broadcast video footage of Maoist leader Pushpa Kamal Dahal ‘Prachanda’ telling his guerrilla commanders his party had successfully recruited over 23,000 soldiers after the 2006 truce and of his aim to control the army to grab absolute power.
The video footage appeared a day after the Maoist government collapsed in a power struggle between the president and the prime minister over the government’s decision to sack army chief Rukmangad Katuwal.

According to the TV stations, the video was shot in December 2006, just two months after the Maoists signed a formal peace agreement to end the decade of communist insurgency.

“To tell the truth we were no more than 8,000 when the cease-fire was declared,” Prachanda told the guerrilla commanders. “Now we are nearly 35,000 strong and even after the UN verification, we would still have about 20,000 fighters which is more than what we had during conflict.”

Prachanda also said the Maoists wanted to control the army so that their “revolution” could be completed.

“Even if 10,000 of our fighters are integrated into the army, the whole of the national army would be Maoist-controlled because our fighters are politically indoctrinated and are focused on achieving their goals,” Prachanda said.

In the video footage, Prachanda also outlined his party’s goal of further revolt by inspiring villagers who had lost their family members during the insurgency.

He said this would be done by handing out government compensation of 100,000 rupees ($1,290) and asking them to fight for more.

Maoist politicians have confirmed that the video is authentic, but say their priority had now changed and they were committed to multi-party democracy.

The UN Mission in Nepal (UNMIN) which verified the Maoist combatants and screened their ranks for underage minors and those recruited after cease-fire in May 2006, has not commented on the video.

According to UNMIN there were just over 32,000 Maoist combatants in 28 UN-monitored camps during first phase of verification.

Just over 19,000 Maoist combatants qualified the verification in the second phase which made them eligible for integration into the army and other security agencies under the terms of peace agreement.

However, the Nepalese army has opposed the integration of the Maoist forces, saying it will not allow politically indoctrinated fighters to join the national force.

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