|Army hq where some of the Maoists are being trained|
The country’s former Maoist rebels handed control of their fighters and weaponry to the national army yesterday, almost six years after the end of its civil war.
Nearly 10,000 former rebels, housed in several camps around the country, have been waiting to be integrated into the army, a key part of the peace process in the Himalayan nation.
The Nepalese army has agreed to integrate 6,500 former combatants into its ranks. Around 3,200 others will have to retire but will either be given financial help or government jobs.
Yesterday’s move helps bolster a fragile peace process and means the major hurdle that remains now is to draft a constitution by May 27.
Several previous deadlines have been missed because of the failure of the main parties to forge an agreement. What to do with the former Maoist fighters was one of the main stumbling blocks.
The Maoists emerged as the single largest party following the historic Constituent Assembly elections in 2008 and are currently leading their second coalition government.
However, some Maoist leaders are unhappy with the army deal calling it a sell-out and betrayal.
They have called for a one-hour strike today and planned to burn effigies of Maoist Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai and the party chairman Puspha Kamal Dahal.
Most others have welcomed yesterday’s decision.
“It is a great step in the direction of long lasting peace for Nepal. It is a historic step with everyone now feeling more secure,” said Father Pius Perumana, Pro-Vicar and Caritas Nepal director.
“Things have happened so fast in the last 24 hours after years and years of waiting. It is hard to believe it is all actually happening.”
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