Nepal: Solving The Issue Of Arms Management
Solving The Issue Of Arms Management
By Purbasi Chhetri
Arms management has been a hot topic in Nepal as it has a direct bearing on ultimate solution of Nepal's crisis. The Maoist people's war in Nepal began by political decision of the NCP (Maoist) to covert Nepal into a communist republic. This is their stated strategic goal. The tactical goal as decided in CCM Meeting held in Chunabang last year is - Democratic Republic. The unified strategic political end objective of the Seven Political Parties Alliance (SPA) is yet to be decided.
During ten years' war with the government forces the Maoists collected about four thousand plus weapons from the security forces, few thousand home-made and licensed hunting rifles from civilian populations, probably few hundred automatic weapons such as AK-47 and huge amount of explosives from across the border. Now, arms management has been the main bone of contention between the government and the Maoists. UN is expected to arrive soon to oversee the arms management.
Differing End Objective
A decade long Government – Maoists war has made Nepal an economically poorer, politically divided, socially fragmented and militarily painful. No side, neither government nor the Maoists have own the war but lost by every Nepalese. Some say SPA – Maoists talks deadlocked on the issue of arms management. It is a wrong notion. It is in fact stuck because of divergent political end objective and methods of achieving them between the Maoists and SPA. If they have one political end objective then issue would have solved easily.
Demobilization and Reintegration (DR)
Four months-long peace talks held between the government and the Maoists have only resulted in agreeing to invite UN Political Mission in Nepal with the task of 'Arms management' and monitoring of Constituent Assembly (CA) election. The 'arms management' is a vague term as everyone understands by now. Obviously, it is not decommissioning, because first letter addressed to UN Secretary General from Government of Nepal fell into controversy as vehemently objected by the Maoists on the issue of decommissioning of the Maoists only. After the term 'decommissioning' was omitted then does the 'arms management' in Nepali context mean Demobilization and Reintegration (DR) of the Maoists army? DR would not mean disarmament but would certainly mean bringing them into confined camp where they would be waiting for reintegration. But then the question arises where, how and when they would be reintegrated? Or, in other words how weapons and guerillas could be managed and when?
Once the demobilization is complete and brought them under the UN supervision now the issue remains of their long term management. The management obviously means reintegration of the Maoists guerillas. According to the formula practiced in other parts of the world as well there are several areas where they would be reintegrated:
Reintegration into the government security forces (Nepal Army, Nepal Police, Armed Police Force). Only interested and fit would fall under this category. However the government will have the final say on this. They could also be reintegrated into government offices, government owned corporations and factories according to their qualifications and skills.
Reintegration into the society for which international community would help them to undergo a normal life. Guerilla under this category may choose to seek foreign employment and private enterprises. Child combatants would obviously be sent to the schools to secure their bright future.
In Nepali context, quite a number of them would certainly like to become leaders and cadres of the Maoists party.
Long term Management
The Maoists have repeatedly said that they wanted to keep their weapons until the election of CA is held and ultimate management of arms would be decided according to the mandate given by the people. But the Maoist has not yet made it clear how people will express their different views about arms management through election of CA. Or, does it mean that whosoever secures majority the arms will be managed on the will of that party or coalition? If so, it is not going to bring a long term peace in the country. The long term management of arms therefore, is directly related to the long term peace of the country. Every Nepalese I guess would fully agree that after the election is over no side; winner or looser, should be able to wage war again irrespective of who wins or loose. Therefore main objective of the arms management should be to bring an end to the armed politics and begin an era of peaceful and competitive politics for prosperous and strong Nepal. No ordinary Nepalese want to see more than one army in this country once the date for election is announced. How UN Mission will ensure this would depend its success or failure in Nepal.
Aim of the arms management
Aim of the arms management should be to bring all the arms and explosive of the government forces and the rebels of the country under the government control not only before but during and after the CA election. Here in Nepal, government means 'interim government' where rebels will have its share and all arms of the country would come under its control. If the Maoists and the SPA have an intention of coming into competitive politics they should have only one interest ie; creating a professional army not loyal to any specific party or group. This should be the bottom line.
For long term management of arms a back ward calculation should be carried out. The starting point for back ward calculation could be restructuring of state and the framework for new constitution which would come after CA election. Political parties and the civic society should not get hurried on announcing the date of CA election; rather they should demonstrate maturity and determination to complete the job with perfection to achieve durable peace in the country.