Integration & Rehab of Combatants-III: UNMIN paper offers 60-week time plan

Party leaders: Sans consensus, it’s only academic

PHANINDRA DAHAL, KATHMANDU, JUL 09: The United Nations Mission in Nepal (UNMIN) has prepared a “non-paper” proposing a 60-week time plan for the integration and rehabilitation of Maoist combatants.

The “Hypothetical timeline for Integration and Rehabilitation” was handed over last month to leaders of the three major parties—UCPN (Maoist), Nepali Congress and CPN-UML—involved in negotiations on deciding the fate of the former rebel soldiers.

The paper is based on current proposals from various national actors, refined according to the lessons learnt from the discharge of disqualified combatants and international experience on the subject. “Much of the timeline will change according to the decisions that are made as negotiations progress. Those decisions are made by the parties,” said an UNMIN official.  “It is a paper meant to trigger some thinking and encourage the parties to develop their own realistic timeline.”

On May 12, while extending the tenure of UNMIN, the UN Security Council had called upon the government and Maoist to agree and implement a timetabled action plan with clear benchmarks for integration and rehabilitation of the combatants. 

Party leaders stress it is indeed the political negotiations that will ultimately decide the fate of the combatants and the role of UNMIN—or that of any international agencies, for that matter—will only be “technical” in these processes. NC leader Ram Sharan Mahat said any timeline would be meaningless unless the political is resolved. “Foreigners like to prescribe many such documents. But it will just be an academic exercise unless the current deadlock comes to an end.” A Maoist leader said the party has taken the ‘non-paper’ “positively” and the integration and rehabilitation task can be completed by eight months if there is consensus among parties.

UNMIN has suggested that the political agreement on key issues such as rank harmonisation post-integration, entry norms and modalities, operational and implementation plans, plans for governmental implementing bodies, basic packages for combatants opting rehabilitation and voluntary retirement are the prerequisites to “D-Day”, the beginning of time-line on integration and rehab. Depending on negotiations, numbers could be fixed beforehand or during the consultation phase.

The paper proposes that the secretariat of the six-party Special Committee would be formed by the end of Week Four and the combatants will come under the supervision and control of the Special Committee by the end of Week Five. It has suggested the design of rehabilitation package will be finalised only after the completion of national labour market survey and socio-economic survey.

The timeline outlines that the labour market survey will complete by the end of Week 16 and socio-economic survey by Week 20. By then, the consultations and briefings with combatants on different options, packages and selection process for different security agencies, registration of choices of combatants would complete.

The combatants would split into camps depending on choice. UNMIN has suggested establishing three camps — P (for voluntary retirement), Integration (I) and Rehabilitation (R). The document says the parties are yet to find a meeting point on whether such centres will exist in all camps or there will be one overall for each option.

By the end of Week 39, a detailed plan for integration including rank harmonisation, entry norms would complete and preparation and refinement of rehabilitation package based on the results of the labour market would be done. The combatants would be delivered final briefings on the choice of security force, rehabilitation option and packages from Week 37-39 and their choices would be registered accordingly. By Week 43, the timeline assumes all the three groups of combatants —P, I & R—would be discharged from the cantonments. The discharge process includes provision of Id’s as required, discharge ceremony, disbursement of cash and information and exit from cantonments, timing of which is “loosely based on the discharge of the disqualified” that was conducted early this year. The calendar has allocated the next seven weeks for the selection process for security agencies, the venue may be either in cantonments or at a security institution of choice. The rehabilitation process would start from Week 44 and  management of weapons would complete by the end of Week 50.

In January, Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal had prepared a 112-day action plan for fighters’ integration and rehabilitation. He had allocated nine days for the selection process for security agencies. UNMIN, in the document, has said the time prescribed by Nepal seems “far too short” if it is assumed that there will be integration of 5,000-7,000 combatants.

The bench mark date for managing the weapons would depend on when the cantonments are emptied, states the document. It says the bridging training for combatants who are selected in security agencies will start between week 51-week 60. The training is expected to last one year for rank and file and 18 months for officers who choose Nepal Army while the rehabilitation packages are expected to run for three years.

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