Six years since the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) was signed, Nepal remains mired in a political impasse with no obvious solution in sight. Deadlines for producing a constitution have been extended one after another for the last six years. The government is under serious political strain with its major parties quibbling against each other on issues of federalism and reintegration.
Meanwhile, deteriorating public security and the politicization of communal and gang violence have left the country facing routine strikes, violence, extortion, kidnappings, a rising number of extra-judicial killings and other forms of intimidation. The Terai region has been the worst affected, with over 100 small armed groups said to be active. These secessionist groups are demanding self-determination or the introduction of a federal system formed along ethnic and religious lines with direct or indirect affiliation with numerous political parties.
Nepal’s government and donor agencies have struggled to plan and implement Nepal’s SSR process. The government has been in political deadlock on key issues relating to the post-conflict peace process. Meanwhile, the fate of the 19,000 former Maoist combatants awaiting re-integration still remains uncertain, as the Nepal Army (NA) and the Maoist party are at loggerheads on many re-integration issues.
After years of intense political wrangling, the NA agreed to integrate the former Maoist combatants into one of its new directorates provided that they meet the standard requirements of recruitment procedures. Under this proposal, the new directorate will consist of 35 percent former Maoist combatants, 35 percent from the NA, and 15 percent from the Nepal Police and the Armed Police Forces. However, it was still unclear how this proposal would be negotiated by the political parties, considering that the NA wants this proposal to be executed on its own terms.
After months of uncertainties, the contentious issue saw light as the major parties promised of a forthcoming agreement. However, the government collapsed as the Prime Minister Khanal resigned on August 14, 2011. Nevertheless, an agreement was reached in November 2011 about the reintegration details despite the divisive party-politics. It was agreed that 6500 former PLA combatants out of 19,600 would be integrated into the NA. The cross-party committee decided that the NA should take over the PLA cantonment in April 2012. The agreement was heavily criticized by the hardline faction of the UCPN as ‘insulting’. As a result, the Maoist party split into a radical faction led by Mohan Baidya “Kiran”.
The cross-party committee on re-integration also decided the PLA cantonment would come under the NA’s control in April 2012. Amid fear and tension, the NA took over the cantonment in the middle of the night on April 12 without any resistance from the former Maoist combatants. However, the take-over event was portrayed as “a serious betrayal to the revolution” by Baidya’s faction and many discontented former PLA members joined his party.
The number of applicants interested in the integration process dropped rapidly from 9700 to 1600. Eventually, 1450 former combatants were integrated into the NA six years after the CPA agreement. Nevertheless, rehabilitation and retirement options still need to be planned effectively for the remaining former combatants. On the one hand, uncertainty remains about donors’ interest to finance a retirement/rehabilitation process which may cost over US$40 million. On the other hand, the issue has been heavily politicized by Baidya’s faction, whose support base consists of hardliners and former PLA combatants.
Although the PLA’s dissolution consolidated the peace process, many critical provisions of the CPA have not been implemented. As a requirement of the CPA, a Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) and a Commission of Inquiry on Disappearances (CoI-D) were to be established in Nepal. Six years later, the Nepali government is working on a draft ordinance to establish the TRC. However, the ordinance came under international criticism because it would allow widespread amnesty to human rights abusers. Meanwhile, the police and the NA reforms to democratize their practices have failed to produce any effective improvement in security.
Asif Farooq is a Research and Communications Intern at the Security Governance Group.