May 4, 2009Foreign AffairsMaoistsNepalsubcontinent

General Katawal stays

Prachanda’s actions isolate the Maoists

This is an archived blog post from The Acorn.

The question of the induction of the Maoist insurgents into the Nepalese army—a force they spent a decade fighting—has boiled over into, what else, a crisis.

Pushpa Kamal Prachanda” Dahal, the Maoist prime minister, would like them to be absorbed immediately. Others, not least the army chief, thinks otherwise. That’s why the army chose to fill its vacancies with 2800 vacancies instead of absorbing Mr Dahal’s Maoist militants. While it is necessary to work out arrangements to employ the 23,000 Maoist militants, the army correctly argues that the one-time rebels must be de-mobilised, rehabilitated and reintegrated” before they can join the national army. [See Damakant Jayshi’s op-ed]

On the surface it appears reasonable’ for the prime minister to have the authority to sack the army chief. But it is important to note that Nepal is under an interim constitutional dispensation, with stability and indeed legitimacy depending on the tenous balance of political power among the main players. Mr Dahal’s decision to sack the army chief was unilateral and didn’t have the support of the other parties represented in his cabinet. President Ram Baran Yadav’s decision to overrule the prime minister on this matter leaves the Maoists isolated on the matter. [more on Republica and on Globespotting, TOI diplomatic editor Indrani Bagchi’s new blog]

So Mr Dahal might have to consume the humble momo on this one. Perhaps a face-saving formula can be found—the army chief, General Rookmangud Katawal, has after all only three more months in command. If this doesn’t happen, Nepal will go into a deeper, more violent crisis. We’ll know after the fierce one speaks.

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