Nepal parties agree to recruit rebel fighters into army

June 19th, 2008 - 3:34 pm ICT by IANS  

Kathmandu, June 19 (DPA) Nepal’s major political parties reached a deal Thursday to integrate former Maoist rebel fighters into the army and other security bodies, ending months of differences that have prevented the formation of a new government. The deal was struck during a meeting of senior leaders of the Nepali Congress (NC), the Maoists and the Communist Party of Nepal-Unified Marxist Leninists (CPN-UML).

Under the deal, the former rebel fighters would have to sit for written examination and undergo physical fitness test and meet the criteria set for recruitment in the Nepali army.

“The integration of the fighters into the national army and paramilitary or police forces would be based on individual capacity and will be completed over the next three months,” NC leader Ram Baran Yadav said.

“Those who do not meet the criteria will be provided vocational training, and the government will look into ways to send them for overseas work,” Yadav said.

The deal was a major concession for the Maoists, who had insisted all their fighters be integrated into the army, paramilitary forces or police.

Earlier this month, army chief General Rupmangat Katuwal said the military could integrate people who were politically indoctrinated but recruitment would to be based on individual merit.

More than 31,000 Maoist fighters were initially housed in seven large camps and 21 satellite camps spread across the Himalayan nation and their weapons locked up under United Nations supervision after the signing of the peace deal between the government and the Maoists, which formally ended a decade of fighting.

However, after two rounds of verification, the United Nations said 19,602 of the fighters had passed the rigid process.

The verification process was intended to identify minors in the Maoist fighting force and those recruited after the peace deal was signed.

Nearly 14,000 people died in the communist insurgency, which saw the rebels expand their control to cover 75 percent of Nepal.

Integration of the rebel fighters was one of the main issues of the peace process.

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