One of the thorniest issues the elected constituent assembly will have to tackle is the one of integrating the Maoist PLA with the Nepal Army. Military expert Indrajit Rai is also a PR candidate in Maoist list. He spoke to Nepali Times this week about the process.
Nepali Times: Will the constituent assembly bring lasting peace?
Indrajit Rai: In military terms, the peace process will be fully completed only when the Maoist People's Liberation Army is integrated with the Nepal Army, as was stipulated in the Comprehensive Peace Agreement.
But is the PLA committed to this?
Some of them are deeply politically indoctrinated, but they dedicated their lives to bring about change. They deserve honourable integration as they were promised when they laid down their arms. The success of the whole peace process depends on integrating the PLA into the army.
How will that come about?
UNMIN has registered 19,602 PLA soldiers who are now living in cantonments. The interim constitution (section 24, clause 144-147) categorically states that the PLA should be professionalised, given proper military training, and then be integrated into a reformed Nepal Army. Not all the PLA soldiers have to be integrated, only those who want to and meet the required standards. In the constituent assembly, a special committee will be formed to oversee the integration process. I will put integration models to this committee, but it will probably be a lengthy process.
But the army says it won't accept "politically active individuals".
It is not up to the army chiefs to decide whether the PLA should be integrated with the NA or not. It is the job of the technical committee to decide. The army is under the government, and it is their duty to accept government decisions. If top Maoists can now be political leaders, why can't the PLA be in a national army? They are Nepali citizens too and deserve basic rights and respectable livelihoods in Nepal.