Monday, April 21, 2008

Barburam Bhattarai on the Army Integration Question - Interview with Reuters

"We have already decided that the two armies will be integrated and a new security force will be created," Baburam Bhattarai, seen as a potential prime minister, told Reuters in an interview in his Kathmandu office, under a collage of portraits of Stalin, Lenin, Mao Zedong, Marx and Engels.

"This is the essence of the whole (peace) agreement so far."

He warned the army not to question the elected political leadership and prepare to absorb Maoist fighters.

"The whole thing will be restructured," he said. "The whole state system within the army will be restructured.

"The army was used by the king earlier. Now monarchy is abolished," he said. "A new political leadership has come. The army should follow the political leadership."

But the army said it would only go by the official recruitment manual, a comment implying that it might not readily accept many of the Maoist fighters.

"The army is an apolitical organisation and this special characteristic has to be respected by all stake holders," Ramindra Chhetri, the army spokesman, told Reuters.

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