Nepal Maoists` China trip row escalates

The row between Nepal`s caretaker government and the opposition Maoist party over the latter`s guerrilla army fighters` clandestine visit to China escalated.

Updated: Oct 26, 2010, 14:57 PM IST

Kathmandu: The row between Nepal`s caretaker government and the opposition Maoist party over the latter`s guerrilla army fighters` clandestine visit to China escalated with the government seeking an explanation from the UN agency monitoring the combatants and the Maoists calling it interference.

The peace and reconstruction ministry has asked the UN Mission in Nepal (UNMIN), the UN body monitoring the arms and fighters of the Maoists` People`s Liberation Army (PLA), if it had been informed by the PLA that some of their commanders were going to China.

The ministry has also asked UNMIN about the purpose behind the PLA combatants` visit to China.

The government move came after Nepali daily Nagarik reported that 11 Maoist leaders, including three MPs and several PLA officials, had visited China clandestinely.

Though the Maoists tried to downplay the visit, saying it was a personal one made when then were on holiday, the daily reported Tuesday that two of the MPs had used a diplomatic passport, which is meant to be used only during official visits.

The two MPs are former PLA deputy commander and peace and reconstruction minister Janardan Sharma and Barsha Man Pun Ananta.

The daily also said that Ananta, who is part of the special committee entrusted with rehabilitating over 19,500 PLA soldiers by mid-January, had returned to Nepal only to leave on a fresh junket Monday to Switzerland.

Maoist chief and PLA supremo Pushpa Kamal Dahal Prachanda himself is on a junket to China and will return Tuesday night, skipping the 13th round of prime ministerial election in which he was the prime contender till last month.

The Maoists in turn fired a salvo at caretaker Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal for criticising the PLA members` visit to China, saying he had acted out of turn.

Ananta, before departing for Switzerland, said the special committee, of which the premier is the chairman, had agreed to work as per majority decisions. Nepal, he said, had violated the rule by going public with his criticism when no one else in the committee had done so.

The Maoist leader also said the PLA were free to do what they wanted when they were on leave, the same as the Nepal Army.

The growing row shows the failure of the government and the Maoists to detach the PLA from the command of the former rebels and bring it under the special committee.

The Maoists, though they agreed to disband the PLA within six months of signing a peace pact in 2006, have been stalling it. The ruling parties fear the PLA would be used to capture power for the former guerrillas in the next general election, an allegation the Maoists deny.

IANS