Monday, April 13, 2009

Top commanders' meet fuels speculation over Nepal Army's plan

Top commanders' meet fuels speculation over Nepal Army's plan
Shirish B Pradhan

Kathmandu, Apr 13 (PTI) A meeting of top military commanders of the Nepal Army, which has been involved in an uneasy relationship with the Maoist-led government, has fuelled speculations that a strategy may be devised to face increasing pressure linked to the integration of the former rebels into the national army.

Though the army has termed the meeting as a regular event, observers regard it as significant in the wake of the uneasy relationship between the Maoists-led government and the military due to differences over number of issues, including the integration of the former rebels into the military.

"The government will not interfere in the meeting and it won't be scared of the Army officials' meeting," Defence Minister Ram Bahadur Thapa 'Badal' said in his response to the two-day meeting, which concludes today in the capital.

The meeting is a regular one and we will discuss the logistics of the army and review the current security situation in the country, said an army official. However, unofficial reports have said that the recent dispute between Army and the government also surfaced during the brain storming sessions.

The increasing interference by the government in the affairs of the Army was also a focus of the meeting attended by around three dozen senior army officers, including six Divisional Chiefs, reports Rajdhani daily, a Nepali language newspaper.

The Maoists, who waged a decade-long insurgency agaisnt the Nepal Army, joined mainstream politics after a 2006 peace deal with the interim government led by G. P.


Nepal swore in its first post-royal government led Prachanda on August 22 after the CPN-Maoist emerged as the largest party in the April 10 constitutional assembly polls last year.

An uneasy relationship exists between the Maoists government and the Nepal Army since the army recruited some 3,000 new soldiers last month despite Defence Ministry's instruction to halt the recruitment process. The army has been against the Maoists' plan to merge their combatants en masse into the 95,000 strong national army.

A fresh row errupted after Defence Ministry decided to remove eight army Generals, who were retiring despite the Army Headquarters' decision to extend their term by another three years.

According to media reports, the army commanders have expressed concern over the deteriorating security situation in the country, seen by many as veiled criticism of the Prachanda-led government.

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