New cabinet likely to form in Nepal

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{image-nepa 21_21082008.jpg}Kathmandu, Aug 21 : The Communist Party of Nepal (Unified Marxist-Leninist) has said that the new cabinet would be formed on Thursday, Aug 21 and the first cabinet meeting would also be held later in the day.

The three major ruling parties, CPN (Maoists), CPN (UML) and the Madhesi Janadhikar Forum (MJF) held a meeting on Wednesday, Aug 20 at the UML's parliamentary party office at Singha Durbar. But, the meeting ended up inconclusive regarding the ministerial portfolio-sharing issue that has been protracting the expansion of the new coalition government in the Himalayan Kingdom.

"The three-party alliance would hold a meeting to form the new cabinet as the parties have reached closer to a consensus," UML General Secretary Jhalanath Khanal said. It has been learnt that the meeting was concentrated on the power sharing issue and whether to create the post of deputy prime minister.

Earlier on Sunday, the parties had finalised the drafts of the common minimum programme (CMP), code of conduct, and the new government''s modus operandi.

The five-page CMP has set priorities such as timely drafting of new constitution, brining the peace process to a logical end, restructuring of the state, immediate relief to the conflict-affected people, integration of Maoist army into Nepal Army and implementation of past agreements, among others.

However, the wrangling over the sharing of ministerial portfolios among the coalition partners has protracted the cabinet formation process.

While there was broad agreement that nine ministerial portfolios would go to the largest party CPN(Maoist), six to CPN(UML) and four to the Forum and remaining four to other smaller parties, the dispute was on who would hold the key portfolios like the defence, foreign, water sources, communication and education. It was decided that the Finance would go to the Maoist.

The Maoists, who are poised to lead the government after the historic Constituent Assembly polls, are under enormous pressure to form the new cabinet by Friday as Nepal's Prime Minister Prachanda is due to visit China on Saturday to take part in the closing ceremony of the Beijing Olympics.


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