Former Nepal rebel combatants threaten revolt over integration issueNovember 4th, 2008 - 3:51 pm ICT by IANS
Kathmandu, Nov 4 (DPA) Nepal’s former Maoist rebel combatants have issued veiled threats against political parties over growing opposition to their integration into the national army, a media report said Tuesday.Rebel commanders said they were meeting in western Nepal to discuss how to respond to political opposition to the large-scale inclusion of combatants in the country’s security forces, Kantipur newspaper said.
“The discussions have focused on whether to accept the decision by the political leadership or opt for another revolt,” Kantipur newspaper quoted an unnamed Maoist commander as saying.
However, there were considerable differences of opinion among the commanders of various Maoist combat divisions over what their future move should be, the newspaper said.
“The issue was sparked off after three top former Maoist guerrilla leaders met last month to discuss growing opposition to integration of former rebels into the national army,” the newspaper quoted the commander as saying.
Mahendra Bahadur Shahi, the head of the seventh Maoist division based in western Nepal, who is considered a hardliner, even threatened to start an armed revolt if politicians cannot agree on the integration of the former rebels, the newspaper said.
On Monday, a senior minister in the Maoist-led coalition government said large-scale integration would be unacceptable to his party.
Foreign Minister Upendra Yadav, who represents the influential ethnic Madhesi People’s Right Forum, said if the former rebel fighters wanted to join the army, they must do so individually and meet the set criteria for selection.
However, Maoist combatant leaders have rejected integration based on individual qualification.
On Saturday, United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said integration of the former rebel combatants was the biggest challenge for Nepal’s peace process.
Of the originally 31,000 Maoist combatants in 28 UN supervised camps across Nepal, only 19,000 passed the rigid verification by United Nations Mission in Nepal (UNMIN) that qualified them for integration.
The Maoists waged a decade-long insurgency to convert Nepal into a communist republic.
What was initially a band of few hundred Maoists armed with home-made weapons in 1996 became a feared fighting force of several thousands within a few years, attacking army and police forces across the country.
Nearly 14,000 people died in the insurgency which formally ended after a mass movement toppled then-king Gyanednra’s government in early 2006.
The Maoists emerged as the biggest party in the elections for a constituent assembly in April 2008, enabling them to form a coalition government a few months later.