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03KATHMANDU945 2003-05-22 09:27:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Kathmandu
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					C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 KATHMANDU 000945 



E.O. 12958: DECL: 05/21/2013






Classified By: CDA ROBERT K. BOGGS. REASON: 1.5 (B,D).


1. (C) Over the past month, the Royal Nepal Army (RNA) has
been conducting a series of one-week civil affairs programs
in 25 Maoist-affected districts in the east and mid-west of
the country. While most of the programs so far feature
mobile medical clinics, in some areas the RNA has carried out
limited infrastructure development as well. Local civilian
government authorities are participating in the programs,
according to the RNA. The RNA has also begun conducting its
own "cultural" programs, focusing on themes of peace and
development, to counter the Maoists' extensive rural
propaganda network. The purpose of the campaign, says the
RNA's Director of Military Intelligence, is to reassert a
government presence in areas where civil authority has been
eroded by the Maoist presence. The RNA reports that the
programs have so far been well received by the local
population--and even, in some areas, by local Maoist
cadres--and hopes to expand them to cover all 75 districts.
The apparent success may have been one factor underlying the
Maoist negotiators' May 9 demand that the RNA not venture
farther than 5 km from their bases. End summary.





2. (SBU) Since the January 29 announcement of a ceasefire
between the Government of Nepal (GON) and Maoist insurgents,
the Maoists have mounted a vigorous campaign to recapture
some of the initial public good will and support they
squandered by breaking off negotiations and increasing
violence in late 2001. Reports from the field--including
from emboffs who have traveled recently to outlying districts
(Refs B-E)--indicate that the Maoists are attempting to
rebuild their diminished popular support by holding
round-table meetings with local mainstream party officials,
staging "cultural" programs that feature revolutionary
song-and-dance spectacles, helping local farmers with the
harvest and even undertaking some minor development work,
such as repairing roads and footpaths. While the Maoists are
actively and openly campaigning for hearts and minds in areas
where they have an established presence, they reportedly are
denying the same freedom of movement to representatives of
mainstream political parties and to GON officials. According
to an official at the Ministry of Local Development, in
several districts the Maoists continue to interdict any and
all local government activities from taking place outside of
the district headquarters (septel).

3. (C) According to Brig. Gen. Dilip Rayamajhi, Director of
Military Intelligence (DMI), the leadership in the Royal
Nepal Army (RNA) saw the ceasefire as an opportunity for a
civil affairs campaign to regain public confidence in the
GON's ability to provide services in Maoist-affected areas.
Despite the ceasefire, he noted, GON officials are
constrained by the lack of security and fiscal resources from
restoring disrupted services. In the initial phases of the
program, the RNA can fill this gap by (a) providing scarce
manpower and even scarcer materials and (b) by providing a
security shield. Rayamajhi said the RNA developed the plan
internally and then disseminated it to local commanders,
ordering them to coordinate its operation with local civilian
government authorities. (Note: He said that a copy of the
plan has been forwarded to the National Planning Commission,
with no response to date. End note.)

4. (SBU) The campaign, which began in April, has so far been
conducted in communities in 25 districts (15 in the east and
10 in the Maoist heartland in the mid-west). Company-sized
units are deployed into target communities for one week at a
time. According to Rayamajhi, the local commander chooses
the community in consultation with local government
authorities, who accompany the RNA unit on its one-week
expedition to the field. So far, the programs have generally
focused on providing medical care, but other services, such
as infrastructure development or distribution of educational
materials, have also been performed. Col. Victor Rana of the
Department of Military Operations provided the following
break-down of services given under the program so far:
--Medical assistance to 25,103 patients;
--Medical evacuation of 7 patients;
--One family planning camp established;
--Distribution of educational/recreational materials to 28
--Distribution of food to 25 schools;
--Repair of 6 educational facilities;
--Distribution of construction materials to 6 communities;
--Seeds distributed to 1,586 families;
--Veterinary care provided to 5,583 animals;
--Citizenship services provided in 20 districts (through the
Chief District Officer);
--15 "Cultural" programs conducted;
--Two water pipes repaired;
--One bridge built;
--One small dam built.





5. (C) The RNA has no special budget to conduct these
programs, Rayamajhi said, but is using existing resources,
supplies and manpower, supplemented by donations from the
local business community, NGOs, and/or occasional materials
or funding from the local government. Rayamajhi depicted the
effort as a joint endeavor between the military and the
civilian authorities, stressing that district health posts
contribute medicines and doctors to the mobile medical
clinics, and that Local Development Officers and Chief
District Officers have assisted in other programs. The
civilian police and Armed Police Force also participate. The
RNA hires members of the local community to provide the labor
for their infrastructure development programs. In some
districts, such as Baitadi and Darchula, Maoist cadres have
also turned out to assist in the RNA-sponsored development
work, while in other locations insurgents have turned up as
patients at the medical clinics. Rayamajhi said the RNA
accepts all comers to these projects--even Maoists. Rana
said the Maoists have not prevented the RNA from conducting
programs in any area. (Note: According to local news
reports, however, in some locations, like the eastern
district of Panchthaar, the Maoists have prevented local
residents from participating. End note.)

6. (SBU) As a companion piece to its civil affairs
operation, the RNA has also begun launching its own
"cultural" programs to counter the Maoists' propaganda
campaign. Featuring song and dance, the material is
apolitical, Rayamajhi said, focusing primarily on the themes
of "peace and development." He reported an enthusiastic
local response to the programs.




7. (C) Rana said the RNA hopes eventually to expand its
civil affairs programs to all 75 districts. He cited
positive media coverage and high local attendance
rates--despite Maoist threats--as key measures of the
successs of the campaign. The program has enhanced good
relations between the security forces and their civilian
counterparts at the local level, improved the Army's image,
and promoted popular confidence in the GON's ability to
provide service and security, while increasing the RNA's
ability to gather intelligence in certain areas. The major
drawback, in Rayamajhi's view, is the GON's inability to
continue the programs. At the conclusion of each one-week
program, the local development officials typically retire to
the relative safety of the district headquarters, unable and
unwilling to venture into Maoist-dominated territory without
the security provided by the RNA, leaving the communities to
lapse back into neglect and isolation.




8. (C) The ceasefire offers an opportunity, at least
temporarily, for the GON to resume basic services in areas
long neglected as a result of the insurgency. In some areas,
however, the Maoists continue to deny GON officials entry and
to threaten and intimidate them (septel), making it virtually
impossible to re-establish a civilian goverment presence.
The effectiveness of the program in countering the Maoists'
appeal may be indicated by local guerrillas warning
(unsuccessfully) the roving medical teams away from some
villages and by the persistent efforts of Maoist negotiators
to gain GON agreement to restrict the movement of army
personnel in the countryside (Ref A). While some RNA
officers in the past have expressed disdain for the GON's
inability to provide services in outlying areas, Rayamajhi
and Rana seemed genuinely sympathetic to the financial,
security and staffing constraints their civilian counterparts
face in the field. In the short term, we see little
likelihood that either civilian staffing or budgets will be
beefed up as long as security--and the outcome of the peace
talks--remain uncertain. The RNA's civil affairs campaign
offers no permanent solution, but as long as it continues to
incorporate elements of the civilian government, it seems a
good interim first step.