09/05/2011, 00.00
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Ex Maoist guerrillas slowing disarmament, destabilise government

by Kalpit Parajuli
Former fighters still hold 21 camps with weapons. Only the keys to weapon caches in seven UN-verified cantonments are handed over. The country’s stability is in jeopardy. The government appoints a former guerrilla commander as the new finance minister to appease critics.
Kathmandu (AsiaNews) – Maoist hardliners are holding back the disarmament of former guerrillas, which began on Friday, destabilising the government of Prime Minister Bhattarai. Four former top officers and commanders in the Maoist paramilitary force have demonstrated in Kathmandu, demanding a halt to the disarming of the 18,000 fighters waiting in cantonments. They want to know what is in store for their troops. The deal with the government was that guerrillas would disarm on condition they join the ranks of the regular army or are integrated into civil society.

To date, Maoists have handed over only the caches in seven cantonments under UN supervision. They still control another 21, which are full of weapons.

Under pressure from hardliners, the list of potential ministers was changed to include former Maoist commanders, including Barsha Man Pun, a former Maoist general who will be the new finance minister.

Nepal’s opposition and many economists have slammed the decision. In their view, the people selected fall short of what they country needs to get out of its current economic and institutional mess.

Ram Sharan Mahat, a former Finance Minister and Nepali Congress Party leader, urged the Maoists not to treat ministerial appointments as a game. “In order to overcome this crisis, we must increase and reassess investments and fight corruption. Nepal’s economy cannot rely only on tourism and migrants’ remittances,” he explained.

According to economist Biswambhar Pyakurel, the country is facing one of the worse economic crises of its history. “Maybe we are a bit confused if we think that a former guerrilla fighter can save our economy.”
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See also
Nepal's Maoist guerrillas victims of political stalemate
Maoist guerrillas violate agreement with United Nations
Maoists back in Nepali government
Nepal: US aid delivery on track as Maoists disowned
Nepal’s Maoist guerrillas to hand over weapons


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