Defense Minister says no to Maoist demands

KATHMANDU: Defense Minister Bidhya Devi Bhandari today rejected the Unified CPN-Maoist’s two demands pertaining to the Special Committee to Supervise, Rehabilitate and Integrate the Maoist Combatants, saying that Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal himself should head the committee.

The Maoists had demanded to either 50 per cent members or their party man as the chairperson of the committee.

“Both the demands are impossible to fulfil whatsoever,” she said while talking to reporters during a press conference at the Defense Ministry. “Such demands by the single

largest party without a simple majority are irrational.”

Minister Bhandari further added, “As the then PM Pushpa Kamal Dahal ‘Prachanda’ had become the chairman of the committee, the same is applied now too, which means the incumbent PM should lead the committee.”

The eight-member committee, headed by Prachanda, was represented by two members, two each from four major parties. The committee has a mandate to take decision on the basis of consensus among its member parties.

Minister Bhandari hoped that the committee would get full shape shortly and begin its work immediately.

Talking about the issue of integrating the combatants in Nepal Army (NA) she said, “Fixing the NA’s size is the matter of national debate. As the Maoists themselves are lobbying for smaller size of the NA, integrating the combatants in the NA will increase its size. So other viable options should be sought for the adjustment of combatants.”

The minister however insisted that the Maoist combatants should be adjusted prior to

promulgating of the country’s new constitution.

She also dismissed the rumour that the NA demanded for additional recruitment recently and homework was on to add the tenure of Chief of Army Staff (CoAS) Rookmangud Katawal, whose tenure is to be expired after about two months.