Controversy generated by the move of the government to seek the ouster of CoAS; CPN-UML urges government to appoint Lt. Gen. Gurung as CoAS; Foreign diplomats: Move to sack the army chief would hamper the peace process
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  • Controversy surrounded the move by the government to seek the ouster of Chief of Army Staff (CoAS) Rookmangud Katawal on issues relating to recruitment in the Army, retirement and extension of eight generals and boycotting of national games. The main opposition party, the Nepali Congress criticized the government decision strongly. President Dr. Ram Baran Yadav met with Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal and cautioned against any unnecessary intervention in the functioning of the army. Yadav asked Dahal to consult the Interim Constitution and forge a political consensus before taking any decision1.

    In an effort to resolve the political crisis, the CPN-UML on its part urged the Unified CPN (Maoist) leadership to dismiss Gen. Katawal, Defence Minister Ram Bahadur Thapa, and Lt. Gen. Kul Bahadur Khadka and instead appoint Lt. Gen. Chhatra Man Gurung, currently third-in-line in the Nepal Army, as the CoAS. The proposal was however rejected by the Maoist leadership2.

    Diplomatic envoys from eight countries, including the United States, United Kingdom, India, China and Japan also met with Mr. Dahal to discuss the issue. They expressed the view that the move to sack the army chief would hamper the peace process3.

    Meanwhile, the Nepal Army (NA) dismissed speculations of military coup in case the government sacked the CoAS. NA spokesperson Brig. Ramindra Chhettri stated that the rumours of coup and curfew were “totally baseless” and that the NA remained committed to the country’s democratic system4.

    In other developments, India's deputy ambassador to Nepal, Alok Sinha stated that India contributed about 44 per cent of total foreign direct investment in the country. Mr. Sinha added that India was always contributing towards the upliftment of the Nepalese economy as well as cooperating in the peace process and in providing aid5.