KATHMANDU, Nov 18: Nepali Congress (NC) has taken strong exception to the UCPN (Maoist) plan to make over 1,200 cantoned People´s Liberation Army (PLA) combatants participate in the Maoist plenum scheduled to begin from November 21.
At the three party meeting held on Thursday, the NC warned that the inclusion of combatants is against the Comprehensive Peace Accord (CPA) and could seriously affect the ongoing peace process.
“We have asked the Maoists to reconsider their plan,” said NC leader Krishna Prasad Sitaula after the meeting. He however, said there was but no specific response from Maoists on their concern.
NC leaders also vented anger over the government´s reluctance to object to the Maoist plan “Is it only the NC which is supposed to protest the Maoist move?” a leader quoted NC leader Ram Chandra Poudel as saying. “Why is the government silent?”
According to leader present at the meeting, Maoist Chairman Dahal tried to allay NC´s concerns saying that not all the Maoist combatants were taking part in the plenum.
“Only a few combatants who are planning to join politics will participate in the plenum,” Peace Minister Rakam Chemjong, who was also present at the meeting, quoted Dahal as saying.
Dahal argued that participation of combatants would facilitate the integration and rehabilitation process as the participating combatants could convince their colleagues in the cantonments.
However, NC leaders objected to Dahal´s explanation. “We have no objection against personal bodyguards of the Maoist leaders attending the plenum,” a leader quoted NC leader Ram Chandra Poudel as saying. “But we object the Maoist plan to make hundreds of combatants participate in the plenum.”
Thursday´s meeting ended inconclusively after the Maoist leaders said they needed time to prepare for the plenum. The parties have agreed to sit for the fifth round of talks after the Maoists plenum.
According to Peace Minister Rakam Chemjong, the Maoists have proposed to sit for decisive talks after the plenum concludes. He said the Maoists have agreed in principle to complete the process of managing the combatants before the UNMIN leaves the country on January 15, 2011.
Talking to mediapersons after the meeting, Maoist Vice-chairman Narayankaji Shrestha said they held discussions on issues including the peace process, constitution drafting and power sharing as well as government formation during the meeting. “We failed to reach consensus as we had to leave the meeting early to make preparations for the plenum,” he said.
Both NC and UML leaders wished for the success of the Maoist plenum and that it may take positive decisions regarding the peace process and the new constitution. Both the parties urged the Maoists to sincerely implement all the agreements reached in the past.