PM Bhattarai bows to Nepal army, promotes tainted officer

In what appears like a case of growing assertion of the Nepal army, Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai finally yielded and put his seal of approval for the promotion of a Colonel, a suspect in human right violation cases during the conflict years, to the rank of Brigadier General.

The prime minister approved it in the last cabinet meeting and promoted Raju Basnet to the rank of Brigadier General, although he had vetoed the army headquarters' recommendations twice before.

Basnet, as commandant of the Bhairabnath Battalion, was charged by many human right groups with killing and disappearance of 49 Maoists allegedly kept in detention in 2003.

Highly-placed official sources said the army took a very rigid stance this time.

Sources also said Gen Gaurav Shumsher Rana, the new chief of the army, has been very forthright on the issue and told the Prime Minister that "dual standards" from his level will send a negative message to the army.

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