KATHMANDU: The standing committee meeting of the ruling CPN-UML, which was called to draft the party’s official stance on the fate of Chief of Army Staff Rookmangud Katawal, ended inconclusively on Saturday.

According to party sources, the UCPN-M’s tough stance on Katawal issue was the main reason that led UML to defer its meeting till Sunday.

Most of the central committee members had suggested yesterday to the party leadership that the row between the government and the CoAS should be brought to an end, as Katawal had already furnished his clarification on three issues raised by the council of ministers.

“The UML will soon make clear its official stance on the Katawal issue. The party is not divided over the issue and we will take the right decision,” influential UML leader KP Sharma Oli told mediapserons after the meeting. Oli added that the national army was under the civilian authority and was abiding by the government’s order. “The government sought clarification from the CoAS and he furnished his clarifications accordingly. The matter should not be further aggravated,” he added. Oli said the government should take into account the constitutional and legal provisions before taking any decision on the issue.

UML General Secretary Ishwor Pokharel said the government had the constitutional and legal rights to seek clarification from its subordinate officials. “But if any action is taken, it should be on the basis of political consensus,” Pokharel said. He added that the UCPN-Maoist’s stance on the issue would not influence his party’s decision.

“Before taking any decision against the sitting army chief, we must consider whether it will adversely affect the peace process and the statute-drafting process or not,” he said. He, however, added that taking action against the CoAS would be easier if there was a political consensus among the parties. 

Pokharel also suggested adopting a moderate stance on the Katawal-Maoist spat. But he refused to elaborate on what the moderate stance could be.

Meanwhile, a central committee member of the UML told this daily today that the PM might offer another lucrative post to Katawal, if the latter agreed on a graceful exit.

Punish CoAS: Gautam

LALITPUR: Deputy Prime Minister and Home Minister Bam Dev Gautam on Saturday said the government should punish Chief of Army Staff Rookmangud Katawal for his disobedience. Speaking at a programme organised here to mark Loktantra Day and New Year, he said the army chief deserved punishment as he had repeatedly violated government orders. Stating that the government had the right to seek clarification from Katawal, he said he had backed the decision during the cabinet meeting. However, the UML vice-president informed that leaders of his party were divided on the issue. “The army should remain under the civilian rule. Whatever directions the government issues to the Army, it should follow them,” said Gautam. — RSS