Military Reform: Comprehensive Peace Agreement
4. Management of Army and Arms
The following shall be done in order for holding the election to the Constituent Assembly in a peaceful and fair environment free from fear and for the democratisation and restructuring of the Army in line with the spirit of the 12-point understanding, 8-point agreement, 25-point code of conduct, the 5-point letters sent to the United Nations and the decisions of the Summit Meeting of the Seven-Party Alliance and the CPN (Maoist) reached on November 8, 2006.
Relating to the Maoist army
4.4. The Interim Cabinet shall constitute a Special Committee to carry out monitoring, adjustment and rehabilitation of the Maoist combatants.
Relating to the Nepali Army
4.7. The Council of Ministers shall control, mobilise and manage the Nepali Army in accordance with the new Military Act. The Interim Council of Ministers shall prepare and implement the detailed action plan for the democratisation of the Nepali Army on the basis of political consensus and the suggestions of the committee concerned of the Interim Legislature. This includes, among other things, right-sizing, democratic restructuring reflecting the national and inclusive character and imparting training to the Nepali Army on the values of democracy and human rights.
4.8. Such functions as border security and security of the conservation areas, National Parks, banks, airports, powerhouses, telephone towers, central secretariat and the distinguished personalities hitherto being carried out by the Nepali Army shall continue.
When the conflict ended in 2006 the then Royal Nepal Army (RNA) had over 91,000 personnel. The number of personnel had increased sharply from 45,000 in 1990. In 2011, the Nepal Army (NA)was 105,500 strong according to the US Central Intelligence Agency.1 The CPA called for the inclusive democratization of the NA along with the integration of Maoist combatants. To ensure that this happened, the CPA established a cabinet appointed commission. These changes, however, did not materialize in 2006.
The interim constitution was promulgated on 15 January 2007. The constitution addressed the civilian control of the NA and the integration of Maoist combatants specifically:
PROVISIONS REGARDING THE ARMY
144. Formation of Nepal Army: (1) There shall be a Nepal Army in Nepal as an institution.
(2) The Council of Ministers shall appoint the Commander-in-Chief of the Nepal Army.
(3) The Council of Ministers shall control, mobilize and manage the Nepal Army in accordance with the law. The Council of Ministers shall, with the consent of the political parties and by seeking the advice of the concerned committee of the Legislature-Parliament, formulate an extensive work plan for the democratization of the Nepal Army and implement it.
(4) In the case of formulating and implementing the action plan pursuant to clause (3) above, determination of the appropriate number of Nepal Army, its democratic structure and national and inclusive character shall be developed, and training shall be imparted to the army in accordance with the norms and values of democracy and human rights. (5) The other matters pertaining to the Nepal Army shall be as provided for in the law.
145. National Defense Council: (1) There shall be a National Defense Council in order to recommend the Council of Ministers for mobilization, operation and use of the Nepal Army Consisting with the following chairman and members:-
(a) Prime Minister Chairman
(b) Defense Minister Member
(c) Home Minister Member
(d) Three ministers nominated by the Prime Minister Members
(2) In case the Prime Minister and the Defense Minister would be the same person, the senior most member of the Council of Ministers shall be the member of the National Defense Council.
(3) If the National Defense Council deems necessary, it may invite other persons at the meeting of the Council.
(4) The Secretary of the Ministry of Defense shall work as the Secretary of the National Defense Council, and, in his/her absence, the officer designated by the Prime Minister shall carry out such work.
(5) Except in the case of mobilization of Nepal Army for the reason of natural calamities, the decision made by the Council of Ministers of the Government of Nepal for the mobilization of the army shall have to be presented to the special committee prescribed by the Legislature-
Parliament within a month of the decision, and be approved accordingly. (6) The National Defiance Council may regulate its working procedures on its own.
146. Interim Provision for the Combatants: The Council of Minister shall form a special committee to supervise, integrate and rehabilitate the combatants of the Maoist Army, and the functions, duties and powers of the committee shall be as determined by the Council of ministers.
The constitution makes the NA responsible to the civilian government by breaking its traditional ties with the palace. The democratization of the army is extremely controversial, since the NA had never been involved in politics in the past.
The Maoists demanded that the Army Integration Special Committee (AISC) be formed before the United Nations Mission in Nepal (UNMIN) began to verify the Maoist combatants in the cantonments.2 According to the Secretary General’s report, the Maoists also demanded, as precondition for the UNMIN verification, that a new national force be created that included members from both sides of the conflict.3 This obviously delayed the verification process. The Army Integration Special Committee (AISC) was not formed in 2007. The Maoist combatants were also not integrated into the army during that year. On 23 December 2007 the Seven Party Alliance and the Maoists signed the 23-point agreement, which mandated the formation of a special committee to handle the implementation of these demands.
On 25 June 2008 the major political parties agreed to amend the constitution in order to further the peace process. Accordingly the constitution was amended on 13 July 20084. Parties agreed to form a multiparty Special Committee within 15 days. But the formation of the committee was delayed and formed on 28 October 2008.5 In the agreement, parties came to the concord that the “verified combatants would have a choice between possible integration into security bodies ‘after fulfilling the standard requirements,’ and an economic package and other alternatives for rehabilitation.”6 However, immediately after the formation of the Special Committee, progress was stalemated because of the controversy surrounding the parameter of the committee’s functions and composition.7 The democratization of the NA also remained a contentious issue.
- 4. "Secretary General’s Report to the Security Council," United Nations (S/2008/670), October 24, 2008.
- 5. "Maoist combatants handed over to SC at a function in Shaktikhor," Himalayan Times, January 23, 2011.
- 6. "Secretary General’s Report to the Security Council," United Nations (S/2008/454), July 10, 2008.
- 7. "Secretary General’s Report to the Security Council," United Nations (S/2009/1), January 2, 2009.
The Special Committee met for the first time on 16 January 2009. The Committee is comprised of two representatives from the UCPN-M, UML, MPRF and NC. The committee adopted its terms of reference on 5 February. These terms elaborated the committee’s responsibilities, which included compiling a list of soldiers wishing to be integrated into the army or rehabilitated. The Special Committee established the Technical Committee on 27 March. It was responsible for providing technical support and assisting the Special Committee.8 Later, the Maoist government, made the controversial decision to dismiss the Chief of Army Staff, General Rookmangud Katawal. However, President Ram Baran Yadav intervened and reversed the Cabinet’s decision. This reversal prompted Prime Minister Dahal’s resignation on 4 May 2009.9 This resignation led to political uncertainty, which delayed the work of the Special Committee and the Technical Committee.10 Under the direction of the CPN-UML leader, Madhav Kumar Nepal, a coalition government of 21 parties formed on 23 May 2009.11 After many discussions over its composition, the Special Committee was reactivated and met on 1 September 2009. The mandate of the Technical Committee was also extended by three months.12
The Special Committee and the Technical Committee began functioning after remaining inactive for months. However, integration of the Maoist combatants did not occur. After the appointment of a new COAS Chatra Man Gurung as per the Cabinet decision on 9 September 2009, the democratization or civilian control of the NA could be deemed settled. The NA worked in concordance with the cabinet decisions.
- 8. "Secretary General’s Report to the Security Council," United Nations (S/2009/221), April 24, 2009.
- 9. "Nepal’s Peace Process at the Crossroads," Conflict Study Center (Situation Update 83), May 10, 2009.
- 10. "Secretary General’s Report to the Security Council," United Nations (S/2009/351), July 13, 2009.
- 11. "Secretary General’s Report to the Security Council," United Nations S(/2009/351), July 13, 2009.
- 12. "Secretary General’s Report to the Security Council," United Nations (S/2009/553), October 26, 2009.
The Secretary General reported that the Prime Minister had submitted a 112-day action to the Special Committee. This action contained a plan for the integration and rehabilitation of the Maoist army before the promulgation of the constitution due on 28 May 2010. Yet many parties disagreed with the action plan. The SC then requested that a high-level political mechanism be formed to make political decisions on issues related to integration. This issue was not resolved in 2010. The integration of the Maoist’s ex-combatants did not occur during this year.13 These issues, along with the democratization could be deemed settled as the Nepal Army always functioned in concordance with the cabinet decisions.
- 13. "Secretary General’s Report to the Security Council," United Nations (S/2010/214), April 28, 2010.
On 22 January 2011, the Maoist’s PLA came formally under the Special Committee for Army Integration. Prior to this, the PLA were under the UNMIN’s Supervision.14 This was an important step in the progress of integration; however, the issues surrounding the integration modality and rehabilitation of ex-combatants remained unsettled. As of September, the Maoists wanted to integrate as many as 8,000 ex-combatants. Yet the other parties (more specifically the NC and CPN-UML) in the Special Committee only wanted to integrate up to 7,000 combatants.15 Also, there has been some progress to the options of rehabilitation or voluntary retirement package. The voluntary retirement package bestows a lump sum of NRs 450,000 on the retiree.16 The NA also proposed to create a separate but mixed force consisting of qualified ex-combatants and personnel from the existing security sector. Furthermore, it proposed a separate directorate for the new force that will remain under the control of the Nepalese Army. The NA made this proposal in May 2011. For the most part it has gained support from all the stakeholders, yet the modalities of the integration, the system of ranking, and the rehabilitation packages, are still to be determined.
- 14. "NEPAL: Maoist Combatants Come Under the Control of Government: Update No. 243," South Asia Analysis Group, January 26, 2011.
- 15. "PLA integration: Parties keen, complexities remain," Kathmandu Post, June 5, 2011.
- 16. "Golden Handshake for PLA combatants: Panel plans Rs 450,000 for fighters," Kathmandu Post, June 10, 2011.
The main political parties finally agreed in December 2011 to integrate 6,500 combatants into the Nepalese Army.17 Ex-combatants went through the re-verification process and they were given options either to opt for a voluntary retirement, join the Nepalese Army or rehabilitate.18 In terms of allocating positions to the integrated Maoist combatants, the Nepal Army had proposed to give 64 combatants the rank of major, 120 combatants the captain, 96 lieutenants and 120 second lieutenants. In doing so, the army had counted the cut-off date on rank determination. They also argued that its cadets enrolled in 1996 had so far given the rank of major. The army had took the position that the combatants at the lower rank need to complete a nine-month training and those at the office level need to go 20-month training after completing the bridge course. The NA was against the unit-wise entry as the combatants were looking for.19
The integration was to occur on an individual basis, which was contrary to what the Maoist leader had promised the PLA combatants: group entry into the Nepalese army, rank considerations based on combatants’ current level of education, and high ranking positions to PLA commanders. Internal divisions with the party and discontent among combatants created a security threat to the PLA commanders in cantonments. The Maoist party chairman made a dramatic decision that the Nepalese Army should take control of the cantonments, combatants and the weapon containers. Wthin a day, all the cantonments and weapons came under the control of the Nepal Army.20 This development, perceived as a betrayal by many in the cantonment sites, led to a large decline in the number of those wanting to be part of the government army. The number of combatants seeking integration declined from 9,705 in the initial re-grouping process down to 3,194.21
The integration process however became contentious among former Maoist combatants as the process moved similar to new recruitment in the Nepal Army. As a result, the former Maoist combatants asked the Maoist party and its Chairman to negotiate with other political parties for the respectable integration. Alternatively, the former combatants asked the Maoist party to take a decision to send all combatants for voluntary retirement if other parties remained inflexible.22 Reintegration process started in the second week of September. As of 14 September 2012, among combatants willing to join the national army, only 1,647 were selected for the integration of which 86 former Maoist combatants were selected for officer positions. Remaining combatants opted for voluntary retirement and received reintegration package.23
- 17. "Number of NA aspirants sees a free fall," Kathmandu Post, April 18, 2012.
- 18. "Parties divided on ways to reduce PLA number for integration,” Kathmandu Post, December 19, 2011.
- 19. "Army shows further flexibility on PLA integration," Kathmandu Post, February 16, 2012.
- 20. "Army takes charge of PLA fighters, weapons," Kathmandu Post, April 2012.
- 21. "Number of NA aspirants sees a free fall," Kathmandu Post, April 18, 2012.
- 22. "Former PLA commanders urge early decision on integration," Kathmandu Post, July 31, 2012.
- 23. "1,647 to be vetted for integration process," My Republica, September 14, 2012.
On 13 March 2013, political parties reached an agreement on the highest rank to be attained by the ex-rebel combatants. According to the agreement, the highest rank will be one colonel, two lieutenant colonels, 13 majors, 30 captains and 24 lieutenants. A total of 1,422 ex-combatants jointed the Nepal Army and this process was concluded on 5 July 2013.24 These new entrants were said to be housed in the newly formed General Directorate for National Development within the Nepal Army.
- 24. “1352 Ex-Combatants Now Army Personnel,” Kathmandu Post, July 6, 2013.
Military reform took place in 2013. No further development reported.
No further development reported.