Nepal gov't monitors to hand checks to ex-rebels

AP News
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Posted: Feb 02, 2012 6:36 AM
Nepal gov't monitors to hand checks to ex-rebels

Government monitors in Nepal on Thursday headed to camps where thousands of former Maoist rebels have lived for years to hand out checks to the ex-fighters, who are about to move back into society.

The former rebels have been living in the camps since the Maoists gave up their armed revolt in 2006 and joined a peace process.

The monitors were on the way to all seven of the camps and were expected to reach them Thursday and Friday, chief government monitor Balananda Sharma said.

The monitors will hand out the checks to the former fighters starting Friday as part of the government's plan to integrate them back into society, Sharma said. Each ex-rebel is to receive up to 900,000 rupees ($11,500).

U.N. arms monitors have verified that there are 19,000 former rebel fighters in the camps. They have had to live in the camps for five years because of disagreements between Nepal's political parties on the future of the ex-fighters.

An agreement was reached between the major political parties late last year saying 6,500 of them would be integrated into the national army while the remaining would be given money to start fresh civilian lives.

At the Shaktikhor camp in Chitwan district, some 100 miles (160 kilometers) south of the capital, Katmandu, the former fighters prepared Thursday to leave.

Dambar Thani, a former rebel fighter in the camp, said there were mixed emotions among the camp's residents.

He said that while they were happy to be heading home, they were disappointed that many of the former rebels' concerns and demands had not been addressed by the government.

Among them is medical aid for disabled ex-fighters who need expensive treatment but have not been assured they will receive it after leaving the camps.

The Maoists fought government troops for 10 years, starting in 1996. After joining the peace process, they confined their fighters in U.N.-monitored camps and locked up their weapons. They joined mainstream politics and contested elections in 2008, emerging as the largest political party.

Nepal's current prime minister, Buburam Bhattarai, is the deputy leader of the Maoist party. He formed the government last year with the support of smaller political parties.