Gorkhatimes

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Lt. Gen. Gurung appointed acting army chief in Nepal

Posted by Ramesh Khati on August 10, 2009

Kathmandu, 10 August: Nepal government has appointed Lt. Gen. Chhatra Man Singh Gurung as an acting chief of Nepal Army as the incumbent army chief Rookmangud Katawal is taking a customary leave one month before his retirement. A cabinet meeting held on Sunday took a decision to this effect.

Gurung, 57, will officially head state army after Katawal’s three-year tenure expires on September 9. This is the first instance of a person belonging to ethnic community heading the national army with 92,000 plus strong force so far.

Traditionally, the army chief would come from the families close to erstwhile Royal Place. Only the ruling Shah, Rana and Thapa have been appointed as the army chief in its entire history of some 250 years.

Started his army career in 1971 after completing Bachelor level education from Tribhuvan University, Gurung has had an untainted career as an apolitical officer within the army. Gurung has received training from the Indian Military Academy, Deharadun and has also completed military courses from US Army Command and General Staff College and National Defense University of China.

The retirement of incumbent army chief Katawal will bring the curtain down on the career of the most controversial army chief so far in Nepal.

Katawal was dragged into controversy as he vehemently opposed idea of former rebel party, Unified Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist), to integrate their combatants into the army, arguing that the integration of ‘politically indoctrinated’ guerillas will spoil the institution of army.

The erstwhile Maoist-led government was forced to step down from the government on May 4 after President Dr Ram Baran Yadav blocked their decision to sack him. The Maoists are still staging protest against the president’s move both in the House and in the streets.

Source: Asian Tribune

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