Major is top rank for Maoists, no group integration
KATHMANDU, Feb 19: Expressing serious concern over conflicting reports about its proposal on integration, the Nepal Army (NA) on Saturday clarified that Maoist combatants would be integrated strictly on the basis of the army´s established norms, except for some consideration over marital status, education and age limit.
The army also clarified that the highest rank for Maoist combatants to be integrated in the national army following a due selection process would be that of major, as per the seven-point agreement reached among the major political parties on November 1, 2011.
Issuing a press statement, NA´s Directorate of Public Relations said various conflicting reports about the army´s integration plan, which could create confusion among the people, had drawn its serious attention. The army clarified that it has not floated any plan or concept on army integration that goes against the agreements reached among the political parties in the past.“
"Though the seven-point agreement went beyond the established norms of the army in terms of age, education and marital status and was reached when the army leadership was outside the country, the army while fully accepting the agreement made a plan to drive the peace process forward positively in view of the country facing a deadlock," said the statement.
The statement said that a maximum 6,000 combatants as recommended by the Special Committee would be integrated in the army in such a way that it would not affect the career prospects of the army´s entire rank and file.
Adding that integration would be strictly based on the established norms of the army except for some consideration for the age, educational qualification and marital status of individual combatants, the army also ruled out any group or unit-wise integration of the Maoists.
While refuting reports that training for the Maoist combatants would be provided in their own cantonments, the army also made it clear that combatants who meet the necessary criteria would be provided international-standard army training at 40 various training centers and sub-centers at NA battalions or brigades located nearest to the Maoist cantonments. Likewise, those selected for officer-level positions in the army would be provided training at the Army Academy.
The army, in its two-page statement, also clarified that the training period for integrated Maoist combatants was cut short a little at the request of Prime Minister Dr Baburam Bhattarai. "But the current proposal is only in a preliminary stage and the plan is yet to be finalized," the statement further said.
The army said that its integration concept was not based on suggestions received by retired army officers as reported in the media and that the incumbent officers were fully capable of making such plans in an institutional manner as per the directives received from the government.
"The plan for the directorate as proposed by the army is not as a separate organ but as an organ that will remains under the army. We wish to clarify that the plan is in line with the agreements reached in the past," the statement reads.
The army has also alleged that the media had blown a regular meeting between President Dr Ram Baran Yadav and Chief of Army Staff Chhatra Man Singh Gurung on Thursday out of proportion.
Stating that CoAS Gurung had reached Shital Niwas to extend an invitation to the president to attend the army function to mark Shivaratri, the statement said CoAS Gurung had clarified about the army´s institutional position on army integration when the president inquired about it at the meeting.