Nepal PM expands cabinet

Kathmandu, Feb 25: Overcoming a row over allocation of the home ministry portfolio with alliance partner Communist Party of Nepal-Unified Marxist Leninist (CPN-UML), Prime Minister Sushil Koirala Tuesday expanded his two-week-old two-member cabinet by adding 18 more ministers.

Koirala administered the oath of office and secrecy to the newly-appointed ministers and one minister of state in the presence of President Ram Baran Yadav at a function in the President Office here.

Ending the two-week deadlock over the expansion of the cabinet, Koirala’s Nepali Congress (NC) and the CPN-UML Monday agreed to 10 ministries each following the prime minister’s assurance to allocate the home portfolio to the CPN-UML.

Among those administered the oath by Koirala was the deputy prime minister duo of Prakash Man Singh of NC and Bam Dev Gautam of CPN-UML.

The ministers from the two parties were sworn-in in the presence of President Yadav, Vice President Parmananda Jha, leaders of political parties, dignitaries and other high-ranking government officials.

The formation of the cabinet got delayed by a fortnight after the two ruling parties, NC and CPN-UML, indulged in a bitter tussle over the home ministry portfolio. The row ended Sunday only after Koirala relented from his hard stance and agreed to allocate the ministry to the CPN-UML.

After the two sides settled the row, the NC and CPN-UML Tuesday morning came up with their respective recommendations and allocation of ministries. Though the NC has mostly old faces in the cabinet, the CPN-UML has picked comparatively new faces.

The home portfolio was the bone of contention between the NC and CPN-UML in their new alliance formed in the wake of their emergence as the two largest parties in the Constituent Assembly elected in November last year. Deputy PM Gautam has been allotted the coveted portfolio.

Prakash Man Singh, deputy PM from the Nepali Congress, will look after Federal Affairs and Local Development while Dr Ram Sharan Mahat, who was sworn-in along with Koirala Feb 11, gets the finance portfolio.

(Anil Giri can be contacted at girianil@gmail.com)

IANS