Page last updated at 00:00 GMT, Thursday, 9 July 2009 01:00 UK

Nepal general denies coup claims

By Rabindra Mishra
BBC Nepali service editor, Kathmandu

Gen Kul Bahadur Khadka
It was my responsibility to accept the task to which I was assigned after the army chief was removed
Gen Kul Bahadur Khadka

The Nepalese general who was appointed acting army chief by former Maoist PM Prachanda has denied allegations that he was planning to stage a coup.

Recently retired Gen Kul Bahadur Khadka has been accused of plotting the move with the help of the Maoist rebels.

He was at the centre of tensions between the army and the Maoists 12 weeks ago when Prachanda sacked the army chief, Rukmangad Katuwal.

That decision was reversed by the president and led to Prachanda's fall.

He resigned as prime minister in protest at the decision.

Powerful faction

Speaking exclusively to the BBC, Gen Khadka said he never got a chance to command the troops.

Nepal PM Madhav Kumar Nepal (centre)
New PM Madhav Kumar Nepal says that he wants to unify the country

He said a powerful faction within the army was intent on bringing him down and a group of generals had gone to the extent of collecting signatures against him.

At the height of the tension, there was even a front page report in a leading newspaper saying that Gen Rukmangad Katuwal and Gen Khadka were both preparing for separate coups.

Maoist Prime Minister Prachanda eventually sacked Gen Katuwal and appointed Gen Khadka, despite strong protests from almost all parties in the parliament.

But the President and Supreme Commander of the Army, Ram Baran Yadav, reversed the government's decision on the same day Gen Khadka was appointed. The president then reinstated the sacked army chief.

Gen Khadka insisted in his interview with the BBC that he had done nothing wrong.

"It was my responsibility to accept the task to which I was assigned after the army chief was removed," he said.

"Had I said no, it would have been a betrayal to the country."

Gen Khadka said the controversy regarding the proposed integration of the Maoist fighters into the Nepalese army had to be resolved at a political level.

He said it would be better if the army spoke about it only after the issue had been discussed thoroughly by the politicians.

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