Nepali PM expands cabinet, but squabbles do not end (Lead)

June 17th, 2009 - 7:50 pm ICT by IANS  

Kathmandu, June 17 (IANS) Even three weeks after assuming office, Nepal’s new Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal Wednesday failed to reach an understanding with his major allies, being forced to induct only 10 new ministers after sharp criticism at home and mounting international concern.
The protracted squabble with allies over power-sharing continued with the parties from the Terai not sending any new faces to the cabinet despite three days’ continuous negotiations.

The new ministers - four cabinet ministers and six ministers of state - are from Nepal’s Communist Party of Nepal-Unified Marxist Leninist (UML) and the Nepali Congress (NC).

Three regional parties from the Terai plains - the Madhesi Janadhikar Forum (MJF), Terai Madhes Loktantrik Party (TMLP) and Sadbhavana Party (SP) - did not send their representatives despite mounting speculation that Nepal would be swearing-in a jumbo 45-member cabinet.

The second cabinet expansion sees 21 ministers from four parties under Nepal’s stewardship.

There is no woman among the newly inducted ministers and no Dalits.

The only silver lining was that six ministers who had been sworn in June 4 but were yet to be allocated portfolios were finally given their ministries.

The surprise inclusion is that of Prabhakar Pradhanang, also known as Rabindra Shrestha, a former top Maoist leader who was jailed during the 10-year armed insurgency and quit the party later to join the UML.

Deputy Prime Minister Bijay Kumar Gachhadar, who is also the physical planning and works minister and heads a faction of the MJF, remained locked with Nepal over coveted portfolios for his party along with his two other Terai allies.

The only two women in the 21-member cabinet are Foreign Minister Sujata Koirala and Defence Minister Bidya Bhandari.

Nepal’s party kept the much-coveted information and communications ministry, peace and reconstruction, and home ministries while the NC got energy and labour and transport management.

More berth pangs are on the cards with the anti-Gachhadar faction vowing to launch a campaign against him.

Nepal cabinet:

1. PM: Madhav Kumar Nepal

2. Dy PM and physical planning and works: Bijay Kumar Gachhadar

3. Foreign Affairs: Sujata Koirala

4. Finance: Surendra Pandey

5. Defence: Bidya Bhandari

6. Information and communications: Shankar Pokhrel

7. Energy: Prakash Sharan Mahat

8: Home: Bhim Rawal

9. Balkrishna Khand: Irrigation

10. Federal affairs, constituent assembly, parliamentary affairs and culture: Minendra Rijal

11. Local development: Purna Kumar Sherma Limbu

12. Health and population: Umakant Chaudhari

13. Peace and reconstruction: Rakam Chemjong

14. Labour and transport management: Md Aftab Alam

15. General administration: Prahakar Pradhananga

16. Land reforms and management: Dumbar Shrestha

Ministers of state

17. Local development: Ganesh Khadka

18. Peace and reconstruction: Dilli Bahadur Mahat

19. General administration: Jit Bahadur Dorjee Gautam

20. Energy: Chandra Singh Bhattarai

21. Home: Rizvan Ansari

22. Health and population: Khadka Bahadur Basyal Sarki

– Indo-Asian News Service


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