Breakthrough in peace process finally

KATHMANDU, NOV 2:
In a seven-point landmark agreement, political parties today agreed to implement the peace process initiated nearly six years ago through the 12-point agreement between an alliance of seven parties and the then CPN-Maoist in New Delhi on 22 November, 2005.

According to the deal, maximum 6,500 combatants will be integrated under a directorate of the Nepali Army on individual basis. The directorate will comprise 65 and 35 percent individuals from government security bodies and Maoist combatants respectively. They will be assigned development-construction, forest security, industrial security and rescue management works. The combatants will have to complete NA’s bridge course and training before taking up their assigned roles.

The parties agreed to maintain flexibility with regard to age, educational qualification and marital status while integrating combatants. Fighters over-age by three years at the time of recruitment in the Maoist army can be eligible for integration into the NA. The parties have agreed to consider combatants whose educational qualification is a level lower than the NA-stipulated requirement as eligible for assimilation into the army. The ranks of combatants will be determined as per NA’s standard norms and prevailing rules, the agreement said. The highest-ranking combatants are expected to land major’s position in the army as per the agreed norms.

Combatants opting for rehabilitation have two alternatives – education, training and opportunities for occupation or voluntary retirement. Under the first option, each combatant will get from Rs 6 lakhs to Rs 9 lakhs in accordance with the nature and duration of the option. Those going for the second option will be provided Rs 8 lakhs, 7 lakhs, 6 lakhs and 5 lakhs by grouping them into four categories on the basis of their rank in the Maoists’ People’s Liberation Army.

Two Bills on Truth and Reconciliation and Inquiry into Disappearances will be endorsed by parliament and two commissions will be formed within one month. Legal cases related to the conflict will be resolved as per the letter and spirit of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement and Interim Constitution.

Agreement was also reached on returning properties seized during conflict to the rightful owners by November 23 through an official decision of the UCPN-M. Local administration will monitor and implement the return of property, and political parties will help in this. The agreement also says owners will be provided compensation and peasants’ rights will be protected as per the CPA, Interim Constitution and the spirit of scientific land reform.

The paramilitary structure and activities of Maoists’ Young Communist League will end and all the buildings and land used by them will be returned to the rightful owners.

Apart from this, all vehicles used by Maoist leaders will be legalised by November 23, and vehicles in Maoist cantonments will be brought under government control.

The political parties committed to continue dialogue for concluding the peace and constitution writing processes by forming a high-level political mechanism. They agreed to intensify the constitution drafting process and to form an experts’ team to get suggestions for state restructuring and also to prepare the draft of the statute within one month.

Although the agreement talks about forming a national unity government, the leaders refused to clarify whether the incumbent government will be expanded or a new one will take shape. “We will decide on it later,” said NC leader Krishna Sitaula. The parties, however, agreed to move ahead with the formation of a national unity government along with progress in the peace and constitution writing processes.

Unified CPN-Maoist Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal, Nepali Congress president Sushil Koirala, CPN-UML Chairman Jhala Nath Khanal and Madhesi Janaadhikar Forum (Democratic) Chairman Bijay Kumar Gachhadar representing Unified Democratic Madhesi Front, signed the three-page document at Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai’s official residence in Baluwatar late in the evening.

Salient features of seven-point deal

• Combatant categorisation for integration and rehabilitation to begin within seven days

• categorisation to be completed by November 23

• 6,500 combatants to be integrated into NA in non-combative role

• All weapons to be brought under government control once integration begins

• Combatant rehab package up to get up to Rs 9 lakhs

• Constitutional commissions to be formed within one month

• Relief for conflict victims

• Return of seized properties by Nov 23. Owners to be compensated

• YCL paramilitary structure to be dismantled

• High-level political mechanism to be formed

• Statute drafting in one month

• Experts’ team to be formed for state restructuring issues

• National unity government to be formed

• Vehicles used by Maoist leaders to be legalised by November 23

Opposing faction object to deal

Maoist Vice-chairman Mohan Baidhya and general secretary Ram Bahadur Thapa expressed dissatisfaction with the seven-point deal saying it was against the party’s decision. “This agreement is against the people and the nation,” said Baidhya, adding that they would hole a press conference later to express their views in detail. He said the party would remain intact despite differences and they had only exercised democratic values by expressing their discontent. Baidhya said he had put this at the meeting of party office bearers and had expressed his views through the media as per the party’s decision after the four leaders signed the deal.

Source: THT

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