Nepali Congress stress Maoists to hand over arms



Kathmandu: Main opposition party Nepali Congress on Saturday warned that the drafting of a new constitution for the country would remain stalled unless the former Maoist guerrillas hand over their arms and conclude the integration process of their combatants with the security forces.

Sher Bahadur Deuba, the senior Nepali Congress leader and former Prime Minister, said that the constitution drafting process could not move forward until the Maoist combatants were integrated and their arms handed over to the government.

"Unified CPN (Maoist) should hand over the arms to the state so as to take forward the constitution drafting process," he said at a programme to mark the 98th birth anniversary of Nepal's first elected Prime Minister BP Koirala in the capital.

The main opposition has rejected a proposal by the new Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai to join the ruling coalition, saying it was not possible untill the Maoists hand over all their weapons to the government.

"It is difficult to believe the UCPN-Maoist just by bringing the Peoples Liberation Army (PLA) under the supervision of the all party Special Committee and handing over the containers' keys in different cantonments," Deuba pointed out.

One of the key sticking points in the 2006 peace plan has been the proposed integration of 19,000 former Maoist rebel fighters into the army, with military leaders and the Nepali Congress resisting the move.

The former Maoist fighters have been confined in cantonments across the country with more than 3,400 weapons following the Compressive Peace Accord reached in 2006.

The Special Committee is entrusted with supervision integration and rehabilitation the Maoists' Peoples Liberation Army (PLA).

Deuba said his party was ready to cooperate with the government in promulgating the constitution when the former rebels return the land and property seized during the Maoist- led decade-long civil war which ended in 2006.

The country has faced political instability and deadlock since the 2008 election to the parliament, delaying the peace process and drafting of the constitution.

PTI