At a time when there is a growing concern over the future of the Maoist combatants, Maoist People’s Army deputy commander CHANDRA PRAKASH KHANAL BALDEV spoke to SAROJ DAHAL on various issues. Excerpts:
Any progress in the integration process?
Yes, there are certain progresses, but there is the need to do a lot of work to show the process is a success.
What do you mean by this?
So far as nominating the coordinator of the integration committee is concerned, because this was stalled over the last few months, we were able to implement it by consensus but the process continues to be interrupted after this. We are yet to make a major progress. After appointment of the coordinator for the integration committee, we have made certain progress.
Why is it so?
We are yet to agree on modalities of integration. We want to hold a ceremony to formally show that our People’s Army is under special committee. However, the ceremony is yet to be organized. Another point of disagreement is the modality of integration and the monitoring mechanism of both the armies after the departure of UNMIN. Due to these factors, we are unable to make major progress.
The issues you have raised including the modality of integration and bringing Maoists combatants under government control have not been settled for a long time. That means you have not made any major breakthrough?
More or less what you said is correct. In the areas of integration, we have already completed three tasks. First we have handed over the bio-data of all the combatants. Second, we have passed the code of conduct. Third, we have appointed coordinator of the Special Committee for integration. At the same time we have discharged disqualified combatants. These are major achievements so far as the integration is concerned.
Do you mean integration is still a difficult task?
As long as political leaders do not take a major decision, I don’t see any possibility to have a breakthrough in integration. I don’t think Secretariat of Special Committee has such a mandate to decide on the fate of People’s Army.
As your three top leaders in Palungtar Plenum drew the conclusion that rebellion is the ultimate destiny and participating combatants also expressed similar views, don’t you think talking about integration is just a formality now?
It is not true. Of course, both the sides of Peace Process are in a very delicate position. The differences are growing among them. I am hopeful that we can find the solution after discussions and I don’t think the situation of rebellion has aroused. In case the process continues to get stalled, then you cannot predict the situation. We have been making efforts to lessen the differences in constitution writing and army integration. It is a well known fact that political parties are yet to reach their ultimate destinations. I don’t think the situation has already deteriorated and the country is heading towards another conflict. If you see our progress, we have made definitely much progress, although the pace is very slow.
When you invited your combatants to the party plenum despite opposition from other parties, did this not indicate violation of the agreement?
I think both the parties are responsible for violating peace process. But, from importing arms and ammunition to Katuwal episode and fresh recruitment, we have to see who violated the agreement more and who violated less. One also needs to evaluate the violation made by Maoist party as well as our decision to send Maoist People’s Army in Palungtar Plenum. We don’t have any objection over there. It is a fact that all of us have committed some mistakes and there are certain weaknesses. The question is now to see who has committed more mistakes and who have less. We don’t have any objections to evaluate the situation.
As it is reported, your combatants are also divided on the basis of top party leaders? Will they abide by a single decision now?
Of course, there are certain differences of opinion among our People’s Army. But, the tradition of communist party is that they will finally abide by the decision taken by the party leadership. This has been happening all the time. It is the party decision which will be final. I don’t think anybody can break our command. PLA will abide by the decision.
Don’t you think the time has come to give a clear message about whether your party wants to go for rebellion or democratic process?
It is not only the issue of Democratic Republic. We have also raised the issue of federalism, constitution making and army integration. If we failed to deal with power sharing, new constitution and army integration in a package, our party, people’s army, will not accept just the change in the constitution saying Nepal is a democratic republic. We launched People’s War not only to remove monarchy and establish democratic republic. There are other things as well.
It means Maoist combatants are still under complete command of UCPN-Maoist party and they still follow the party’s policy and line?
One thing must be clear that Maoist party and People’s Liberation Army accept multi-party democracy of 21st century but we cannot accept the present pluralism. As long as the parties do not write the new constitution as per the mandate of the people and People’s Movement II, our PLA will watch carefully against any conspiracy against nationalism.
As UNMIN is leaving the country in a month, what will be the future of peace process and question of army integration after that?
Of course, some questions may appear but I don’t think the peace process derail. We have already developed a good mechanism during the four year long peace process. I don’t think it will easily derail. Even during the period of conflict, our army always remained disciplined. I don’t think they will come out now. I don’t think Nepal Army will also break the peace process. The process will move on the basis of political consensus. Both the armies will follow the decision taken by all parties. I don’t think there will be a major disturbance even after the departure of UNMIN. The process will move as in the past. I don’t think there will emerge any major problems.
Do you mean if there is a political agreement, the process of integration will be completed?
Yes, that is absolutely true. If politically decided, both the armies will have no option other than to accept the integration package. There is the need to have a political agreement for all this. If the situation goes out of context, only then we can think to go for rebellion.
Your leaders have been saying that they signed the agreements with other parties realizing that winning the war was not possible. If that is true what is the guarantee that you will succeed the next time?
We have not been saying that we will go to war again. If the present political set up is unable to settle the political issues raised by us, we will change our style of struggle or we can change our war front. May be we go for peaceful rebellion. One thing is certain that we cannot sign agreement with other political parties on their terms.
But, your party entered in the mainstream politics by signing the agreement with other parties.
We definitely joined the mainstream politics by signing the agreement but we cannot accept anything that goes against the demand raised by our party during 12 years of people’s war.