Dahal: We never had problems with the army. There was conflict because the army chief refused to follow the government's decision. Now we have come to the final stages of integration and if we can quickly conclude this process it will be in the larger interest of the country. As the leader of the biggest political party and commander of the PLA, the Nepali people are expecting me to achieve these goals. That is why I have been trying to speed up integration and calling for greater cooperation with the army.
The army says that if the ex-Maoist combatants fulfill due process they can be promoted up to the rank of Major. What are your thoughts?
It's okay for the army to make such statements. But we have to be mindful that we are in a very delicate phase of the peace process, so solutions have to be sought through political consensus and the army has to show flexibility. The seven-point agreement does not stipulate that ex-combatants cannot occupy posts higher than a Major. Ideally, we would like to have a Maoist representative at the directorate; because it would help us complete the integration and conclude the peace process faster.
So when do you expect the peace process to be completed?
I would say within 15 to 20 days, once we figure out a working plan.
Will the constitution writing also gather speed after that?
Peace process does not just mean decommissioning the cantonments. There are other crucial matters like forming a Truth and Reconciliation Commission, commission on the missing people, and rehabilitation of people affected by the war. Constitution writing is also a part of the process. Within three weeks we will complete army integration, the constitution will be written and then no one can blame the Maoists any longer.
But there are several contentious issues in the constitution. How do you propose we deal with them?
There are differences on issues of state restructuring, governance and judicial system. But the major debate is over the basis of state formation and that is going to be the most difficult part in creating a new constitution.