02/06/2012, 00.00
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More than 16,000 former Maoist fighters going home

by Kalpit Parajuli
The closure of former rebel camps is an historic moment for analysts and political leaders. The decision comes after 4,000 fighters had started a protest for losing their allowance. About 9,000 fighters will join the ranks of the armed forces; 7,000 will go back to civilian life and will no longer be members of the Maoist party.
Kathmandu (AsiaNews) – The Nepali government is shutting down the last Maoist training camps, starting the final stage in the reintegration of thousands of Maoist fighters into society. The decision comes after months of protest by some 4,000 guerrillas who tried to stop the process of closing the facilities that began in September. In December, the United Nations had stopped paying them an allowance saying they were unfit to reintegrate society.

It will take some 12 days for the 16,000 fighters to be reintegrated. More than 9,000 will join the regular army, 5,000 more than anticipated. The 7,000 who chose voluntary retirement will get between US $ 60,000 and US$ 100,000 depending on their rank.

Many of those who chose retirement will also be released from their party, something that has been met by resistance from former rebel officers who still want to control them.

“The process has started and we have no intention of engaging in any other action,” said hard-line Maoist leader Mohan Baidhya (aka Kiran). However, “we are not happy with the decision to separate our former fighters from the party. We are going to put pressure on the government to change this part of the agreement.”

Despite the criticism, political leaders, analysts and ordinary Nepalis see the disarmament process as a fundamental step towards completing the country’s peace process and drafting of the new constitution, six years after the end of the civil war.

For senior Nepali Congress leader Ramchandra Poudel, dismantling the camps is an historic event but should be completed quickly to avoid further problems. The ruling Maoist party, in his view, should also the return the land and taxes it seized in the districts it controlled and administered during the civil war.

For 11 years, Nepal’s regular army and Maoist guerrillas fought each other. The latter sought to overthrow the old monarchy to install a people’s republic.

The conflict ended with the fall of the absolute Hindu monarchy following a peace accord between the armed forces and Maoists signed on 21 November 2006 in front of the United Nations and the international community.

However, because of the country’s instability and Maoist political manoeuvres after it won power in 2008, more than 16,000 fighters remained in training camps, a burden on society.

On 20 September of last year, after six of negotiations between army, United Nations and government, they accepted to disarm.
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