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Maoist-led government sacks army chief

Latest update : 2009-05-03

The disagreements among Nepali political parties over the integration of ex-Maoist rebels into the armed forces appeared to deepen Sunday when the Maoist-led government announced that army chief Gen. Rookmangud Katawal was fired.

REUTERS - Nepal's ruling Maoists fired the army chief on Sunday, accusing him of disobeying instructions not to hire new recruits, a move that could jeopardise a landmark peace process that ended a bloody civil war three years ago.

 

"The cabinet has relieved General Rookmangud Katawal of his position," Information and Communications Minister Krishna Bahadur Mahara told reporters.

 

In sacking the army chief, the Maoists ignored objections from opposition parties and some allies within the ruling coalition.

 

Ties between the Maoists and the army -- on opposing sides in a decade-long civil war -- have been fraught since the former rebels came to power after emerging as the single largest party in an election for a constituent assembly last year.

 

Katawal was due to retire in four months. The Maoists accuse him of hiring 2,800 new recruits and reinstating eight generals without consulting the government.

 

Mahara said Katawal was sacked because the "explanations submitted by him were not satisfactory".

 

The Maoists and the army have also faced off on the question of absorbing thousands of former rebel fighters in the armed forces. Katawal had resisted, saying the army could not take in "indoctrinated" cadres.

 

The rehabilitation of the former fighters is seen as key to lasting peace in the country.

 

Date created : 2009-05-03

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