In a major development, at least 70 former Maoist rebels joined the Nepal Army as officer-cadets on Monday after they completed nine months of basic training.
The ex-rebels had given up arms seven years ago after calling off their 10-year-old civil war against the government.
Chairman of Nepal’s interim government and Nepal Army chief Gaurav Shumsher Rana jointly presented the insignias of lieutenant rank to the former rebels at a function held at the Nepal Army Academy in Bhaktapur near Kathmandu.
“With this the final phase of integration of former Maoist combatants has come to an end following remarkable achievements in the peace process,” chairman of cabinet of Nepal Khil Raj Regmi told the gathering.
The former rebels had undergone a nine-month basic military training course before Monday’s ceremony. They would undergo another bridge course of three months before they become full-fledged officers.
The transformation of former Maoist rebels into Nepal Army officers marks an important phase in Nepal’s peace process which started in 2006 following signing of a peace deal.
As part of the agreement between Maoists and the government, it was agreed that the rebels would be given a choice of joining the army or opting for monetary benefits.
After many years of differences between both sides, it was finally agreed that nearly 1,400 would join the Nepal Army as part of a separate force dealing with natural disasters, industrial security etc.
In July, 1,352 of them joined the army as soldiers. On Monday, 66 men and four women got integrated as officer-cadets.
Of the 70, one would get the rank of a colonel, two others will become lieutenant colonels while the others become officers in junior ranks.