Kathmandu: Seventy former Maoist rebels, including four women, today became officers in the Nepal Army they once fought, in a landmark event in the peace process.
A total of 66 males and four women fighters completed the nine-month officer-cadet training. The cadets were conferred insignias by Chief of Army Staff (CoAS) General Gaurav Shumsher Rana and Lieutenant Generals Pawan Bahadur Pandey and Netra Bahadur Thapa at an event organised at the Nepali Military Academy in Kharipati, Bhaktapur.
A passing-out parade was held to mark the occasion, which was attended by the head of Nepal`s interim government Khil Raj Regmi.
"With the insignia of the cadets, the final phase of the integration process of former Maoist combatants has come to an end following the remarkable achievements in the entire peace process," said Regmi.
"At a time when army integration, an integral part of the peace process, has been successfully completed, constitution writing, another fundamental aspect of the peace process, has been our top priority," said Chairman Regmi.
UCPN-Maoist leader Krishna Bahadur Mahara said the integrated officers are now in the Nepali Army and they would devote themselves to the welfare of the nation.
Of these 70 cadets, one will be given the post of Colonel, two will be promoted to the post of Lieutenant Colonel, 16 to the post of Major, 30 as Captains and the rest 21 will continue as Lieutenants.
Meanwhile, the Resident Coordinator of the United Nations in Nepal congratulated the country, terming the occasion a milestone in the historic peace process.
"It marks a milestone in the Nepali peace process that began with the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement in the presence of the UN in November 2006," said Resident Coordinator Jamie McGoldrick.
McGoldrick urged all actors "to strengthen the conducive environment for the election and increase the momentum to implement the outstanding commitments of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, including constitution drafting and setting up of transitional justice mechanisms."
"I reaffirm the continued commitment of the United Nations to cooperate closely with Nepal in support of progress in the peace process", he said.
The Comprehensive Peace Agreement ended a decade-long civil war between the state and Maoist rebels which is believed to have claimed atleast 16,000 lives.