NEPAL: Ex-Maoist Guerrillas Released in Nepal

Sunday, January 17, 2010
Outlook India
Southern Asia
PeaceWomen Consolidated Themes: 

Scores of former Maoist combatants, including women, were released from UN supervised camps today in Nepal's Chitwan district in the second phase of the process to rehabilitate the disqualified guerrillas as part of the 2006 peace process.

More than 250 Maoist combatants, including 91 women, disqualified by the United Nations Mission in Nepal (UNMIN) were released from the PLA third division Shaktikhor Cantonment in Chitwan today in the presence of UN officials, government representatives and Maoists commanders.

The cantonment shelters 3,900 combatants, of which 587 were disqualified by UNMIN during the verification process.

The released former guerrillas were seen off by OHCHR-Nepal chief Richard Bennett, Peace Ministry's Joint Secretary Bishnu Nepal and Maoists Commander Baldev, media reports said.

The 258 disqualified combatants received NRs 22,000 to meet their immediate needs.

Although 587 combatants in the Shaktikhor cantonment were disqualified only 258 could be released today as others were absent, according to the assistant commander Udaya Bahadur Chalaune.

Bennett asked the discharged combatants to help in the peace process since it will form an important contribution to the nation.

Earlier, 201 disqualified combatants were discharged on January 7 from Dudhauli camp. Hundreds of former child soldiers of the Maoists' guerrilla force were released on January 7 from the UN supervised camps.

Nearly 20,000 former rebel fighters have been housed in seven main camps since 2006, when they ended their decade-long armed rebellion to join a peace process and enter mainstream politics. UN monitors found that 2,975 of the fighters were under 18.

Altogether, there are some 4,008 disqualified Maoists guerrillas.

The former guerrillas have been provided with special identification cards which will facilitate their entry to schools or colleges, take up vocational training or start businesses with the help of government and UN agencies.

The discharge is scheduled to be completed in seven cantonments across the country by mid-February amid a political deadlocked over the Maoists' demand to rectify the decision of President Ram Baran Yadav to reinstate General Rukmangad Katawal, the then Army Chief dismissed by Maoists Prime Minister Prachanda in May last year.

Prachanda had blamed Gen Katawal for trying to resist the integration of former rebels into the military as stipulated under the 2006 peace agreement.

The Maoists, who have around 40 percent of the seats in parliament, argue that the president's move was unconstitutional and has compromised "civilian supremacy" over the military.

The Maoist party plans to shutdown the country indefinitely from January 24 if the 22-party coalition fails to rectify Yadav's "unconstitutional" decision in a bid to uphold the supremacy of the civilian government.