10 weapons for each PLA camp enough: Dr Mahat

Pokhara/Lekhnath, Nov 27:

Finance Minister Dr Ram Sharan Mahat today said only 10 weapons per camp would be enough for the protection of each cantonment of the Maoist People’s Liberation Army (PLA). He said the number of arms was as per international standards.

“Though the Maoists will be making security arrangements in the temporary camps in their own way, the government, too, will be responsible for the security of Maoist leaders and PLA personnel,” Dr Mahat told a press conference in the Kaski district office of the Nepali Congress.

Dr Mahat said there are around 10,000 combatants in the PLA. He added that the government was firm on its stand that there shouldn’t be two parallel armies in the country.

He said the government provided Rs 70 million for the Maoists immediately after the peace treaty for preliminary management of cantonment sites and provisions for the Maoist army.

Dr Mahat said the Maoists were violating the peace treaty by still going ahead with their donation drive. “The government will be forced to alter its judgment of the Maoists if this continues,” he said. He said the government is holding talks with donor agencies to arrange for more funds for the Maoists, adding that the Maoists should give up military training and other such activities.

Earlier, inaugurating the Lekhnath festival, Dr Mahat said the government was taking initiatives to re-establish banks, financial institutions and their branch offices which were displaced during the conflict.

Meanwhile, a report from Hetuada quoted central NC leader Sujata Koirala as saying that the constituent assembly would be affected if the Maoists’ arms management issue is not settled. Speaking at a programme of the Nepal Students’ Union, Makwanpur, Sujata said the promulgation of an interim statute was also being delayed because of the arms issue. Saying that the Maoists should not be involved in the constituent assembly until they give up arms, she said: “People will have faith in only those parties which have been working as per their aspirations, not in those parties who set store by weapons.”

Stressing that there should be at least 30 per cent representation of youth in the interim parliament, Sujata urged the seven parties to move ahead with a mutual agreement to construct a new Nepal.