Nepal gets 11-member unity cabinet
REUTERS & IANS
A NEW cabinet comprising 11 ministers belonging to different political parties has been sworn in Nepal with the hope of introducing a constitution and ending political turmoil in the impoverished Himalayan country.
Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai, a former Maoist rebel leader, appointed an 11- member cabinet that included five members of his Maoist party, two from the main opposition Nepali Congress, and four from smaller regional parties, said Ram Rijan Yadav, the prime minister’s spokesman.
“The prime minister will also appoint nominees from the UML and the process of cabinet making is likely to be completed by Monday,” Yadav said, referring to another opposition Communist party.
The new government has been formed after dissolving the previous cabinet as per a five-point agreement reached amongst the parties to form a national consensus government under Bhattarai.
The opposition parties have been pressing for a unity government before they agree on the new constitution.
Ministers from the Nepali Congress (NC), the United Democratic Madhesi Front (UDMF) and the Unified Communist Party of Nepal- Maoists (UCPN-M) were sworn on Saturday night during an oath taking ceremony at the Shital Niwas, Nepal’s President House.
As per the agreement, the cabinet will comprise 27 members with six ministers from each political party and two from the smaller political parties.
The new cabinet comprises of two deputy prime ministers one of the UCPN-M and the UDMF. Likewise, there are four ministers from the UCPN-M and four from the UDMF each.
The ministers from UDMF have already been assigned the portfolios. One member of the UDMF has not yet been sworn in for not being present in the capital city of Kathmandu. Similarly, two ministers from the Nepali Congress have been nominated but are yet to be assigned any portfolio. The Communist Party of Nepal- Unified Marxist Leninist (CPN-UML) has not yet recommended any names for the ministers.
It was involved in intense discussion until late night on Saturday and said that the names would be announced on Sunday. The portfolios for the home, defence, health, physical planning, information and communications and irrigation have been assigned to the UDMF.
The Nepali Congress, however, recommended only two names owing to the interparty conflict between two different factions of the party.
Nepal’s first republican constitution is meant to finalised before a May 27 deadline but political parties have yet to agree on the formation and number of federal provinces - a sensitive subject that has often triggered violent protests. The introduction of a constitution was a key condition of a 2006 peace deal that ended the conflict in which more than 16,000 were killed.
Nepal, tucked between giant neighbours China and India, has been plagued by instability for years even though a Maoist insurgency ended in 2006 and the monarchy was abolished, as the rebels had demanded, two years later.
Meanwhile, the first meeting for the cabinet held after the oath taking ceremony decided to reconstitute many of the portfolios. It also expressed deep sorrow over the victims of the natural disaster that struck in Annapurna range and Seti river on Saturday.