Sacked Nepal Army chief likely to move court

May 3rd, 2009 - 4:55 pm ICT by IANS  

Kathmandu, May 3 (IANS) Nepal’s tough army chief Gen Rookmangud Katawal, who was relieved of his responsibilities by the ruling Maoist party Sunday, is likely to challenge the decision in court, former army officers predicted.
The 61-year-old, who received his marching orders just three months before he is due to retire, is expected to knock at Nepal’s Supreme Court to stay the Maoists’ hand.

“It is a routine procedure,” said a Nepal Army brigadier-general who had served for 33 years.

“The general’s challenge to the government over the eight brigadier-generals the government tried to retire last month is a pointer that Gen Katawal will go to court,” said a former lieutenant-colonel, who too declined to be named.

Recently, when the Maoist-led government sought to retire eight brigadier-generals, the army went to court under Katawal’s orders to block the move.

The dispute is still being heard with the Supreme Court scheduled to deliver its verdict next week.

The general’s task could be made easier by the four other parties in the Maoist-led coalition government who said the former guerrillas had taken the decision to retire Katawal Sunday unilaterally, ignoring their advice to seek the opinion of the interim parliament.

Soon after Maoist Information and Communications Minister Krishna Bahadur Mahara announced that Katawal had been replaced with Lt. Gen. Kul Bahadur Khadka, the opposition Nepali Congress called a meeting of the other parliamentary parties to discuss a united reaction.

Meanwhile, rallies began to erupt in Kathmandu over the ouster of the army chief.

While Maoist cadres expressed triumph, saying that the general deserved his dismissal for defying the orders of the government, the opposition rally flayed the Maoists for taking unilateral decisions and jeopardising the peace process.

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