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CPN-UML's Oli Deputy PM, Koirala retains Defence

By Staff
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Kathmandu, May 2: Nepal's Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala today named a six member cabinet, including CPN-UML's K P Oli as Deputy Prime Minister, after differences betwen the constituents of the seven party alliance (SPA) on portfolios -- which had delayed the formation of the ministry -- were resolved.

The cabinet comprises three members from the Nepali Congress, and one each from the CPN-UML, Nepali Congress (Democratic), and the United Left Front. There is no representative from the Nepal Sadbhavna Party, while the other two constituents of the SPA -- the Nepal Jan Morcha and the Nepal Mazdoor Kisan Party -- had decided not to participate in it, but join the interim government formed later, in which Maoists are also likely to participate.

Though a meeting of the alliance leaders last Wednesday -- the morning after King Gyanendra gave in to their demand for revival of the 2002 parliament -- had decided to have a 21-member ministry, only six have been sworn-in now, with the remaining posts likely to be filled later.

Earlier, sources had said the ministry would have at least six nominees each from the NC and the CPN-UML, three from the NC (D), one each from the Nepal Sadbhavana Party and the United Left Front and two representatives from civil society.

Mr Oli was also given charge of Foreign Affairs, instead of Home as earlier reports had indicated, which went to the NC's spokesman Krishna Sitaula. NC's Prof Ram Sharan Mahat, a liberal economist, has been given charge of Finance, and his party colleague Mahanth Thakur will hold the Agriculture ministry.

NC (D)'s Gopal Man Shrestha and ULF's Prabhu Narayan Chaudhry will look after Physical Planning and Land Reforms respectively.

Mr Koirala will hold charge of Defence and other ministries not allotted, for the time being.

The cabinet faces a multiplicity of challenges, including organising elections to a Constituent Assembly and holding peace talks with the Maoists, while retaining the support of the people, who have warned the politicians not to 'repeat the mistakes of the past' and betray them.

UNI

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