By S. Chandrasekharan
The political parties representing the Maoists, Nepali Congress, UML and the Samyukta Madhesi Morcha signed a “historic” deal on 1 November, ending six years of uncertainty that started soon after the signing of the earlier historic agreement of the 12 point deal of November 22 of 2005.
The agreement deals extensively with the modalities and time line for PLA integration and one last point has been added that deals with constitution writing and the formation of a national consensus government.
An unofficial translation of the seven point agreement as produced by the daily Republika is given as an annexure for a detailed study.
The high lights of the agreement are:
1. A special directorate is being formed by the Army consisting of 35 percent of PLA personnel and 65 percent of personnel of own security forces that will take care of infra structure development, rescue relief operations, forest and industrial security management etc. There will be relaxation in age and educational qualifications of the combatants. Rank determination will be on the existing standards of the Army and will be decided by the Special Committee on integration.
2. There will be handsome packages for those wishing to be rehabilitated with a compensation ranging from 500,000 to 700,000 and between 500,000 and 800,000 for those who volunteer to retire.
3. The task of classifying the combatants for integration, rehabilitation and retirement will begin within seven days and completed before November 23.
4. The two Commissions that are to be formed under the Comprehensive peace Agreement of November 21 2006, on the Truth and Reconciliation Commission ( TRC) and the Commission to Investigate Forced Disappearances would be endorsed by parliament and formed within a month.
5. The public properties seized during the conflict will be returned by November 23 with due compensation paid to the owners.
6. The para military structure of the YCL will be dismantled.
7. The rights of the peasants will be guaranteed as per the comprehensive peace agreement and scientific land reforms.
8. A High level political mechanism will be formed to take the ongoing peace process to its logical end and in the task of writing a constitution. The process of formulating a draft of the new constitution will be initiated within a month.
Though the agreement is too general in parts and liable to different interpretations, the political parties deserve to be congratulated for finally coming to a firm agreement on integration. One could say that this should have been done long ago in 2007 itself under Koirala’s government, but still, it is not too late either. Everything else would depend on the completion of the vexed question of integration.
2. More than any one else, the Maoists deserve some praise for being flexible both in the matter of harmonisation of ranks and in the modalities of integration – individual and not group wise. But they did get what they wanted both in getting the desired numbers into the army and in getting a handsome package for both retirees and those opting for rehabilitation.
3. The Nepalese Army that appeared to insist on adhering to the strict standards in integration was flexible enough to allow flexibility in age and in educational qualifications. The Army Chief also deserves to be congratulated on the brilliant idea of forming a separate directorate thus skirting the contentious issue of “combat role” for those integrated.
4. There is an unstated understanding on the power sharing with the Nepali Congress taking over the government once the new constitution is readied. In having a deal with the Maoists, it is necessary to ensure that the UML is not ignored in the process. The UML is still a party to reckon with.
5. One does not have to read too much into the open opposition by the Maoist group led by Mohan Baidya. I had said before and I would reiterate that Prachanda is still in command and is in a position to ensure strict implementation of the agreement.
The Seven Point Deal- Annexure- ( An unofficial translation)
National consensus is a must to take the peace process to a logical end and complete the task of writing the new constitution.
So, as per the Comprehensive Peace Agreement 2006 and various other understanding between the political parties at different times, the following understanding has been reached to compete the remaining task of constitution writing and move forward as per the politics of national consensus.
1. Integration and rehabilitation of the Maoist combatants
a) Existing records of the Maoist combatants residing in cantonments will be updated.
b) The number of the Maoist combatants to be integrated will be 6,500 at the maximum. Integration will be done under a directorate of Nepal Army and 65 percent of the personnel of the directorate will come from Nepal Army while remaining 35 percent from the Maoist combatants. The directorate will have the mandate of carrying out development related activities, forest conservation, industrial security and crisis management.
c) Combatants of the Maoist army opting for integration will have to meet the standard norms of the security agency on an individual basis. However, the existing recruitment policy on age bar, educational requirements and marital status will be made flexible. In this regard, one level in the educational requirements fixed for a specific post of the security agency will be relaxed. Similarly, age bar has also been relaxed up to three years of the maximum age set for entry into the security agency.
d) The rank harmonization of the Maoist army opting for integration will be done as per the standard of the security agency. Integration of the Maoist combatants into the security agency will be done in such a way that it does not bring any negative consequences in the career development of existing officers and other ranks.
e) Maoist combatants opting for integration will get responsibilities in the security agency after completing bridge course and training.
f) All the weapons stored in cantonments will automatically come under the government́s ownership once the process of integration begins.
2. Rehabilitation of Maoists combatants
a) An alternative package of education, training and vocational opportunity will be provided to combatants opting for rehabilitation. Depending on the nature and timeframe, the cost of the package will vary from Rs 600,000 to Rs 900,000.
b) Depending upon their responsibilities, the combatants opting for voluntary retirement and cash instead of the package will be categorized into four levels and those falling in the highest category will get Rs 800,000 while remaining three levels in the descending order will get Rs 700,000, Rs 600,000 and Rs 500,000 respectively. The amount will be made available in two tranches in two fiscal years. A formal decision to this effect will be made at a meeting of the Special Committee within two days.
3. Group division
The task of dividing the combatants opting for integration and those for rehabilitation will begin after the Special Committee takes a procedural decision in this regard within seven days and will be completed by Nov 23.
4. Formation of commissions as agreed earlier
a) As per the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, the bill on the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) and the Commission to Investigate Forced Disappearances would be endorsed by parliament after building consensus in the spirit of reconciliation. These commissions would be formed within a month.
b) The legal cases of the conflict era would be looked into as per the letter and spirit of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement and the Interim Constitution, 2007.
5. Relief packages for the conflict victims
Relief packages would be made available without discrimination to the kin of those killed and disappeared, maimed, displaced and those whose properties were damaged in the armed conflict. The relief packages to be distributed after the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement would be provided equally and without discrimination.
6. Implementation of past agreements and building an environment of trust
a) The UCPN (Maoist) would take an official decision to return the private and public properties seized by the party during the armed conflict to the rightful owners for their use by Nov 23. Due compensations would be paid to the owners for the loss caused by the seizure of properties.
b) The rights of the peasants would be guaranteed as per the letter and spirit of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, Interim Constitution 2007, and scientific land reforms.
c) The paramilitary structure of the YCL would be dismantled, while all the public and private properties seized by the YCL would be returned to the rightful organizations and individuals by Nov 23.
d) Vehicles used by the Maoists and recorded at the Transport Management Department as per the earlier agreement would be regulated as per the existing rules and regulations by Nov 23. Unregistered vehicles would be seized.
e) The local administration would monitor – and enforce if necessary — the implementation of the agreement on returning the seized properties to the rightful owners. The political parties should cooperate with the government for its implementation.
7. Constitution writing and national consensus government
a) In order to take the ongoing peace process to a logical end and to complete the task of writing a constitution, the ongoing dialogues among the political parties will be continued. For that, a high level political mechanism will be formed.
b) The process of writing the new constitution will be accelerated. In order to make recommendations on state restructuring, a team of experts will be formed immediately on the basis of consensus in Constituent Assembly and the process of formulating a draft of the new constitution will be initiated within a month.
c) In line with the progress made in the peace process and constitution writing, the process of formulating a national consensus government will move ahead.