KATHMANDU: The standing committee meeting of the ruling CPN-UML concluded on Sunday, stressing the need to resolve all the national issues, including the spat between the government and the army chief, on the basis of national consensus.

The meeting specially dwelt on the Maoist-led government’s decision to seek clarification from Chief of Army Staff Rookmangud Katawal and his possible expulsion four months ahead of his compulsory retirement. The government had sought clarification from Katawal, accusing him of defying the government’s order to stop fresh recruitment in the Nepali Army, not to extend tenure of eight generals and boycott of some events in the sixth National Games.

“The national issues should be resolved through consensus between the major political parties,” UML’s influential leader KP Sharma Oli said after the meeting held at the party headquarters in Balkhu.

The UML is an important ally in the coalition government and the decision taken by the government should be on consensus basis, Oli, who is against taking any further action against Katawal, said. He claimed that the decision was taken unanimously. Deputy Prime Minister and Home Minister Bam Dev Gautam refused to talk to the media. Gautam is in favour of taking action against the CoAS. He has been maintaining that the CoAS is one of the hurdles in the peace process.

Most of the party’s central committee members suggested on Friday that the row should be brought to an end, since Katawal had furnished his clarification as demanded by the government.

Party general secretary Ishwor Pokharel said the Maoists, the UML and

the Nepali Congress must reach a consensus on the

issue. “There is no alternative to national consensus,” he added.

UML’s secretary Shankar Pokharel said the party was for resolving the CoAS row through consensus to ensure that a new constitution could be drafted on time, peace process could move towards success and the Nepali Army’s morale remained intact.

“Drafting the new constitution on stipulated time and bringing the peace process to a logical conclusion are the nation’s priorities and any decision taken by the government should not affect these priorities,” said Pokharel.

A UML source, however, told this daily that the standing committee came up with an idea that both Katawal and his rival Kul Bahadur Khadka should be asked to quit, as both had politicised the army. The source also claimed that the third person in-command, Chhatraman Gurung, should head the Nepali Army.

The meeting also noted that Defence Minister Ram Bahadur Thapa should step down on moral ground, as he had split the national army into two camps and tried to weaken its strength.