World Bank comes to Nepal Maoist guerrilla army’s aid

7 08 2008

Source: Sindh Today

Kathmandu, Aug 5 (IANS) The World Bank has come to the aid of Nepal’s endangered peace process, offering a bounty of Nepali Rs.3.350 billion for the upkeep of the Maoists’ once dreaded guerrilla army as well as the rehabilitation of the thousands of people affected by the 10-year communist uprising.

Nepal’s peace and reconstruction ministry Tuesday said the World Bank aid would be utilised for the nearly 19,000-strong People’s Liberation Army (PLA) of the Maoists, who this month threatened to revolt if the government did not immediately release funds for them.

A part of the aid would also be used to pay Rs.100,000 each to the families who lost their kin during the ‘People’s War’ or were maimed or forced to flee their home.

The PLA, whose might helped the Maoists win their war against Nepal’s powerful king, have been in dire straits since the signing of a peace pact two years ago that saw them confined to 28 makeshift cantonments.

‘The PLA is up to its neck in debt,’ Maoist lawmaker and PLA deputy commander Janardan Sharma ‘Prabhakar’ told IANS. ‘For 13 months, the government did not pay them the monthly salary of Rs.3,000 it had promised. Even the daily food allowance of Rs.60 is worthless today, given the mounting price rise.’

Faced with a raging monsoon and absence of safe drinking water, doctors and medicines, the PLA camps have been reporting outbreaks of diarrhoea and other water-borne diseases. The camps leak and some are threatened by nearby rain-swollen rivers.

There are new mothers among the combatants and the camp chiefs say they are struggling to get nutrition for the mothers and newborns.

The PLA was promised that it would be merged with the Nepal Army soon after the election and the formation of a new government.

However, while the election was postponed from 2006 to April 2008, there is still no sign of a new government almost four months later.

This month, another Maoist lawmaker and PLA deputy commander, Barsha Man Pun ‘Anant’ raised the plight of the PLA in the caretaker parliament, warning that the government could face a revolt if their woes were not addressed immediately.

There has also been growing bitterness between the Maoists and the army over the stopping of state allowances to the PLA.

The Maoist mouthpiece Janadisha daily Tuesday alleged that the finance ministry stopped funds to the cantonments on the instructions of Nepal Army chief Gen Rookmangud Katuwal.

The general has openly opposed the government pledge to merge the PLA with the state army, saying that the army would induct people only if they met the international yardsticks of physical, mental and psychological fitness.