Nepal Today

Wednesday, November 30, 2011



Kathmandu, 1 Dec.: Preferences of former Maoist PLA fighters
are being taken at the last cantonment at Kailali in the far-West Thursday to
to record preferences of what was thought to be 19,000 plus rebel fighters at seven cantonments.
The process should have been completed by Monday but was delayed for procedural reasons and the process should now be completed by Saturday.
The former fighters are being whether they desire integration in Nepal Army which they fought for 10 resettlement or voluntary retirement to disband the former guerilla force ad complete the delayed peace process.
Preferences of 16,572 have been recorded until Wednesday—among them 13,092 male and 3,478 women.
Ninety-seven work has been completed, Coordinator Balananda Sharma of a secretariat under special committee headed by the prime minister said.
Sixty percent have chosen integration.
Second phase will now start to put the former fighters in separate camps for integration and voluntary retirement.
Altogether 2,764 former fghters verified by UNMIN in 2007have gone missing casting doubts on the process undertaken by the UN agency.
Intentions of Maoists have also been questioned.
UNMIN was charged for a pro-Maoist bias.


Kathmandu, 1 Dec.: As an unexpected number of the PLA opted for integration in the ongoing categorization process, the UCPN (Maoist) is going to ask other political parties to increase the integration quota of 6,500, Dil Bahadur Chhatyal writes from Talband in Kailali.
Maoist Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal said on Wednesday that he would hold meetings with leaders of other parties to increase the number of the Maoist combatants to be integrated into the national army.
“The combatants have demanded to increase the number. This issue will be resolved through discussions among political parties,” said Dahal, who arrived here along with the prime minister and other political leaders, to inspect the categorization of the Maoist combatants in Talband.
In a historic deal on November 1, the UCPN (Maoist) had agreed with other major political parties that up to 6,500 combatants will be considered for integration. Political leaders had not expected such a large number of combatants to opt for integration. Though the exact number of the PLA combatants opting for integration is yet to come, around 60 percent of the combatants have intended to join the national army.
“We are concluding a historic task. So increasing the allocated quota by one or two more thousands will not be a big deal,” Dahal told media persons.
General Secretary of the CPN-UML and Special Committee member Ishwar Pokharel, who was also in the monitoring team, also said that the issue of increasing the integration quota would be discussed at the political level once the completion of the categorization.

Prime Minsiter Baburam Bhattarai, Ishwar Pokharel, Minister for Information and Communications Jaya Prakash Gupta, Maoist leader Krishna Bahadur Mahara and PLA chief Nanda Kishor Pun had visited the seventh division, Talband on Wednesday morning to witness the progress in the categorization of the combatants.
In the meantime, disgruntled combatants demanded with visiting leaders a special package for injured and handicapped combatants. In response, Dahal assured them of preparing a special rehabilitation package.
According to our correspondent in Rolpa, Kamal Thapa, combatants at the Dahaban cantonments submitted their demands, including special package for injured and handicapped combatants, to the visiting prime minister and Maoist chairman, warning them of struggle if their demands are not addressed within a week.
Responding to their demands, the prime minister assured that the government would develop a special package for injured and handicapped combatants.
PM assures to return land within 15 days
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai on Wednesday claimed that the seized lands will be returned to the rightful owners by the end of Mangsir (December 15).
Bhattarai, who arrived here to monitor the PLA categorization in Kailali, said the government will address the problems of squatters and landless people and return the seized land as per the seven-point agreement.
“A committee will be formed to resolve the problems of landless squatters,” he said, adding, “The comprehensive peace agreement states that the seized land will be returned to the rightful owners and the problems of squatters and landless people will be addressed simultaneously.” He reiterated that the aforementioned tasks will be completed within 15 days.

Though the political parties reached an agreement to return the seized land by November 23, the Mohan Baidya faction has been consistently protesting it.
Around two thousand bighas of land that belongs to 240 families is still under Maoist control.



Kathmandu, 1 Dec.: Saudi Arabia has assured Nepal that it would allow Nepali migrant workers carrying handwritten passports to enter the kingdom for sometime to come, Om Astha Rai writes in Republica.
At a meeting with representatives of foreign employment agencies on Wednesday, Foreign Affairs Minister Narayankaji Shrestha assured them that Saudi Arabia will restart issuing visas to Nepali workers with handwritten passports in a few days.
Som Lal Bataju, president of Nepal Association of Foreign Employment Agencies (NAFEA), quoted foreign minister Shrestha as saying, “We are expecting a positive decision from Saudi Arabia probably by Saturday.”
According to Uday Raj Pandey, Nepal´s ambassador to Saudi Arabia, who met senior officials at the Saudi Arabian ministry of foreign affairs over the issue on Wednesday, the kingdom has made it clear that it would allow the use of handwritten passports only for a certain period.
“The undertone of what Saudi Arabian officials have told us is almost clear. They will issue visas to Nepali workers who have already deposited visa fees,” says Pandey. “The kingdom may not issue visas to workers with new handwritten passports. Those workers who have not deposited visa fees will have to obtain Machine Readable Passports (MRPs) to work here.”
More than 7,000 handwritten passports of Nepali workers have already piled up in the Saudi Arabian embassy in Bangladesh for visa stampings ever since the kingdom banned manual passports. “An additional 3,000 handwritten passports have piled up in Nepal waiting for the lifting of the ban,” says Bataju, adding, “Some 50 manpower entrepreneurs are in Bangladesh for the last few weeks expecting a positive decision from Saudi Arabia to this effect.”
Saudi Arabia, one of the major overseas job destinations for Nepali laborers, had stopped accepting handwritten passports a month ago without prior notice following a series of disclosures about tampered manual passports. A majority of Nepali workers still carry conventional handwritten passports on the pretext of difficulties in obtaining MRPs.
Nepali foreign employment agencies have been asking the government to lobby for the lifting of the ban by Saudi Arabia on handwritten passports on the ground that the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) has allowed Nepal to use manual passports till 2015. Nepal has got an excuse for using manual passports for a few more years as it failed to meet the deadline for introducing MRP.
“It will be a great relief for us if those workers who have already deposited visa fees, $ 36 each, will get to go to Saudi Arabia,” says Bataju.



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