Eight (or nine, by some reports) Brigadier Generals of the Nepal Army (NA) have been retired by the Government, despite the recommendation of the Chief of Army Staff (COAS to extend them. They were all eligible for 3-year extensions upon completion of their 5 year term.
That a few Brigadier Generals, from a pool of 50+, retire is not an earth-shaking event. The Government has always reserved the prerogative to retire or extend senior army staff, quite apparent also during the days when Kings were the Supreme Commander of their Royal Nepal Army. So there is also no lack of precedence.
But the political complexities of present Nepal cast a different meaning on these recent retirements. The decision has been taken by the Prime Minister and the Defense Minister, both Maoist leaders who have their own private army - the "People's Liberation Army" (PLA) - behind them. Maoist rhetoric has even gone so far as to propose that the Nepal Army be replaced by the PLA as the national army. It is in the interest of the Maoist party to weaken the Nepal Army in any way possible. The growing rift between the Defense Minister and the Chief of Army Staff is apparent to all. This morning's paper states that the President, who is now supposed to be the Supreme Commander of the NA, has advised the COAS to "knock on the doors" of the government to press his request to extend the generals, since the President's own powers are "limited". This from a President from the Nepali Congress party which is supposed to be the main opposition to the current government!
Let's call a spade a spade. The continuing existence of the PLA is a sore festering on the peace process of Nepal. The NA is now the only institution between some sort of order and complete anarchy in the country. Let us hope that COAS Katwal has the strength of conviction and love for this country to do what needs to be done.