A move by Nepal to formally bring Maoist insurgents under government control has been welcomed by Catholics and NGOs who also warned that further efforts and prayers would be needed. Nepal’s Maoist chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal has agreed to hand over some 19,600 Maoist combatants and their weapons to the control of a special committee headed by prime minister Madav Kumar Nepal. The committee is now tasked to resettle, integrate and rehabilitate the Maoists, known as the People’s Liberation Army (PLA). Naresh John Shrestha, a member of Kathmandu’s Catholic Assumption Church, said: “The handing over of the PLA has brought about a sense of goodwill. Let us hope it is not just another political drama and that it will work out. Whatever steps are taken by different political parties, until and unless positive changes develop within the thinking process of individuals, peace can’t be established. So we continue to pray for these leaders.” Ram Keshari Shrestha, a Catholic and head of the ‘Voices of Citizens’ NGO in Kathmandu, said: “Our main vision is for peace but the practical needs of thousands of poor people who have been displaced in this long insurgency must also be addressed.” Several countries, including India, US and China, have welcomed the move, which now requires the PLA to follow new codes of conduct as laid down by the committee. The code requires the PLA refrain from any political involvement and prohibits them from using anything that identifies them with the Maoist party. PLA members have been receiving allowance money and were living in cantonments in various parts of the country while they were managed by the United Nations Mission in Nepal which left on January 15. NP12977.1638
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