'Maoist combatants' management must for Constitution-drafting'



Kathmandu: Maoist combatants' integration with Army and their rehabilitation are essential for drafting the new Constitution and must be completed a month before the possible promulgation of the key document on May 28, according to Nepali Congress which is part of the ruling coalition.

The task of integration and rehabilitation of the People's Liberation Army (PLA) of the Maoists must be carried out one month before the Constitution is promulgated, Nepali Congress (NC) vice president Gopal Mah Shrestha told reporters here today.

The deadline for completing the Constitution-writing process is May 28 this year. It was set two years ago.

"We cannot draft the Constitution unless the Maoists agree to manage their combatants, dissolve their para-military forces, the Young Communist League (YCL) and return the seized property to their rightful owners," Shrestha said.

The cantonments, where the Maoists' arms and combatants are confined, should be emptied before drafting the Constitution, he said.

"As soon as the Constitution is promulgated we should go for the Parliamentary Elections as other political parities, which do not possess arms and Army, cannot (currently) compete with the Maoists who have a private army," Shrestha pointed out.

He also expressed doubt about drafting of the Constitution within the stipulated timeframe, claiming that Maoists were not cooperating to take the peace process to a logical conclusion. Until and unless the peace process comes to a logical conclusion, it is not possible to write the Constitution, Shrestha said.

If the Constitution could not be promulgated within the May 28 deadline, there would be only two options -- either to amend the interim Constitution for the eighth time to extend the deadline or to impose emergency rule in the country, he said.

He also said that Nepal's democratic forces and indigenous people living in the hilly regions are not anti-Indians, but friends of India.

Shrestha said if these forces and people are weakened, it will not benefit India.

He asked India not to seek friends only in the Terai region, home to Indian-origin Madhesi community, which is situated in the southern border of the country.

Shrestha noted that all Indian army's ex-servicemen living in the hilly region consider India as their second home.

PTI