KATHMANDU, July 30: Prime Minister Baburam Bhattai on Monday claimed the stalled selection process of former People´s Liberation Army (PLA) members into the Nepal Army (NA) directorate will restart within a week.
Talking to former PLA commanders at his official residence in Baluwatar, he also tried to assure them of "dignified selection process" and urged them to be patient.
PLA had boycotted the selection process saying it was demeaning to them and had demanded flexibility over candidate´s age and education. The selection process was halted in the second week of July.
"The process will restart after a week or ten days so please be patient," Himmat Baral Magar, former PLA brigade commander of fifth division, Rolpa, quoted Bhattarai as saying. Magar said Bhattarai had also said talks with the political parties on the selection process were moving positively.
"We informed the prime minister about the complexities of the selection process which must be resolved," said Basudev Ghimire, former PLA division vice-commander of fourth division, Nawalaparasi. According to him, the main stumbling blocks were the age and education of individual combatants wishing to join the the national army.
In November last year, major political parties struck a seven point deal in which they agreed to consider up to three-years over the official age bar for combatants while joining the army. They had also agreed to provide one level above the educational qualification that the combatants had obtained when they joined the Maoist army.
Despite the agreement with other parties, the UCPN (Maoist) had instead been been assuring former combatants that education qualification attained after the peace process would be considered and also the combatants who joined the Maoist army as minors during insurgency would also be accepted.
But when NA started the selection process, they applied standards based on the seven point deal which meant that combatants were disqualified on the basis of age requirement of the NA recruitment process. Also, the army refused to accept education qualification attained by combatants after the peace process.
It led to boycott of the process by PLA demanding flexibility over the age and education. According to PLA sources majority of the 3,123 combatants opting for integration will not meet NA norms if the process is executed like a regular recruitment process.
"We did not think it was necessary to provide accurate information like education and date of recruitment believing that the party would once again opt for people´s revolt. Now, that has it became a problem," said Magar.