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Nepal debates conscription for adults above 18 yrs

world Updated: May 21, 2014 11:24 IST
Utpal Parashar

Nepal’s lawmakers who are in the process of formulating the country’s new constitution are fighting over 'compulsory military training' to all citizens above 18 years.

The proposal has the support of Maoist lawmakers and another fringe parties but is being opposed by the ruling Nepali Congress and Communist Party of Nepal (Unified Marxist Leninist) coalition.

“It will be basic training enabling citizens for national welfare and making them disciplined,” Unified Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) lawmaker Yogendra Man Ghising told the constituent assembly on Tuesday.

Maoists, who entered the political mainstream in 2006 after a 10 year civil war that claimed over 16,000 lives, have been insisting on conscription as a mean to promote nationalism.

The party’s manifesto for last year’s election which elected a new constituent assembly had also included compulsory military training.

The issue had also been debated in the previous constituent assembly, which was dissolved in 2012 after failing to draft a new constitution.

After Maoists, who were the biggest party in the previous assembly, insisted on its inclusion a committee had agreed on asking citizens above 18 years to take part in military training “if required”.

This time around with Maoists relegated to the third biggest party in the new constituent assembly the ruling coalition is against incorporating any such provision in the constitution.

“Since Nepal is not going to take part in any war, the issue of military training is meaningless,” said Nepali Congress leader and former Deputy Prime Minister Sujata Koirala.

Another Nepali Congress leader Arjun Narsingh KC said the idea is not feasible as the country will need NRs 21 billion (Rs 13 billion) to give military training to nearly seven million youths.