Nepal dismantles King's war system | india | Hindustan Times
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Nepal dismantles King's war system

india Updated: Jul 03, 2006 19:38 IST
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Nepal's new government on Monday decided to dismantle a formidable garrison of security forces set up three years ago to fight the Maoist menace by de-linking the police contingent from the army.

Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala Monday held a cabinet meeting during which it was decided to de-link Nepal Police contingents from the Unified Command of security forces.

The Unified Command was formed in November 2003 after peace talks broke down between the then government of prime minister Surya Bahadur Thapa and the rebels a month earlier following the government's rejection of the proposal to put the institution of monarchy to vote.

The crisis was aggravated when Royal Nepalese Army soldiers killed 19 people in Doramba village in central Nepal even though the peace talks were going on and both sides had called a truce.

As the rebels broke off parleys and resumed arms, the Thapa government formed the Unified Command that put the Royal Nepalese Army, Armed Police Force, Nepal Police and National Investigation Department under a single chain of command.

Significantly, the army was put in charge of the Unified Command and one year later, it helped the King to seize absolute power through a bloodless coup.

The formation of the Unified Command was strongly criticised by human rights activists at home and abroad, who predicted it would lead to the militarisation of Nepal and increased incidence of disappearances, arbitrary arrests and extra-judicial killings.

The Thapa government, which was controlled by King Gyanendra from behind the scene, however justified the security apparatus on the ground it would result in the optimum use of the capabilities and resources of various security forces, and with joint effort and a ingle chain of command would have the effect of a "force multiplier".

After nationwide street protests this year compelled the King to relinquish power, the new government sought to clip the powers of the king and axe his connections with the army.

The King has been divested of his title as supreme commander of the army and his prerogative to appoint senior army officials.

Information and Communications Minister Dilendra Prasad Baru, who is also the spokesman of the Koirala government, told the media after the cabinet meeting on Monday that now the 3,773 policemen, who were part of the Unified Command, had been de-linked.

The Unified Command reportedly had about 3.4 million personnel.

The move comes as the new government is gearing up to hold an election by next year when people would choose between monarchy and a constitutional republic.

Before the election is held, the government army as well as the Maoists' guerrilla army would have to be confined to barracks with their arms under the supervision of a monitoring agency to ensure they don't try to influence the vote.

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