KATHMANDU, April 10: A meeting of the three major parties -- UCPN (Maoist), Nepali Congress and CPN-UML -- and United Democratic Madhesi Front (UDMF) scheduled to finalize contentious issues related to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and Disappearance Commission on Tuesday lost focus after the Maoist leaders, including Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal, proposed settling the issues of the peace process first.
At the meeting held at the Ministry of Peace and Reconstruction, Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai setting the agenda for the day argued that keeping the peace process in limbo would not augur well, especially keeping in view the tension in cantonments for the last few days, said a leader present at the meeting.
Dahal then stressed the need for bringing the Maoist cantonments, containers and combatants under the Nepal Army immediately.
Dahal argued that “a Maoist faction” does not want to conclude the peace process and has been creating tension in the cantonments. “Tension in the cantonments shows that they do not want to see conclusion of the peace process,” a leader quoted Chairman Dahal as saying.
Dahal had mentioned that some elements in the cantonments had also created tension on the issues of rank, ethnicity and financial matters. “They have stood against the political developments since the 12-point agreement and are trying to foil the peace process both from inside and outside the cantonments,” the leader quoted Dahal as saying.
Dahal told the leaders that he was committed to taking the ongoing peace process to a logical end and that the process gained momentum only after his party decided to send his PLA body guards to the cantonments. “Keeping in view the tension in the cantonments, we should settle the issue in a responsible manner,” he said.
Acknowledging the gravity of the issue, NC President Sushil Koirala, CPN-UML Chairman Jhalanath Khanal, Madhesi People´s Rights Forum-Democratic (MPRF-D) Chairman Bijaya Kumar Gachchhadar, Sadbhawana Party President Rajendra Mahato, MPRF-Republican Chairman Raj Kishor Yadav, Tarai Madhes Democratic Party (TMDP) leader Hridayesh Tripathi had seconded Dahal´s proposal. The leaders then proposed to call a Special Committee meeting and take necessary decision to bring the Maoist cantonments, combatants and arms under the government´s control.
Earlier, the parties had agreed to conclude the voluntary retirement process by April 12 and settle all contentious issues in the new constitution by April 17.
Accordingly, the parties were set to finalize all the contentious issues related to the TRC and Disappearance Commission. Maoist leader Khim Lal Devkota and UML leader Agni Kharel, who have been looking into legal issues in the party, and some officials from the law ministry, were also invited at the meeting.