Nepal: running out of rebels?

by | Mar 3, 2009


While the rest of the world faces job losses, Nepal’s Maoists are hiring:

A former Maoist rebel commander said on Tuesday the group plans to recruit thousands of fighters, a move seen as a blow to peace and underlined serious tensions between Nepal’s army and the Maoists.  Nanda Kishore Pun, chief of the Maoist fighters, told Reuters it was the ex-rebel group’s turn to fill vacancies in their ranks, after Nepal’s national army’s recruited 2,800 personnel last year.

The move could endanger a 2006 peace pact which ended a decades-long civil war and saw the Maoists joining the political process, winning an election last year, analysts said.  The Maoist-led government has not commented on Pun’s remarks so far, and analysts said it was not immediately clear if he had taken Maoist Prime Minister Prachanda into confidence.

Nepal’s former rebel fighters are now housed in U.N.-monitored camps and their weapons locked away under the 2006 peace deal. Their rehabilitation is seen as key to lasting peace, but the national army is refusing to enrol “indoctrinated” rebels into its ranks.

The Maoists won a surprise victory in last year’s election and now head a coalition government but their rebel army has never disbanded. A former Maoist commander is now the defence minister.

Pun said the plan was to take the number of rebel fighters to 31,000 which was their strength when they signed the 2006 peace pact. “It is not a new recruitment and is to fill vacancies in our army,” he told Reuters.

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