Maoists join Nepal Cabinet, ending month-long stalemate

March 5th, 2011 - 1:46 pm ICT by ANI  

Kathmandu, Mar. 5 (ANI): Nepal Prime Minister Jhalnath Khanal included four Maoists in his cabinet on Friday, ending weeks of uncertainty over whether the former rebels would join his government or not.

Khanal, who was elected Prime Minister a month ago after a seven-month political stalemate with the help of former Maoist rebels, administered the oath of office and secrecy to four Maoists at the presidential residence, Shital Niwas, in Kathmandu.

Disagreements over the distribution of ministerial portfolios had delayed the formation of Khanal’s cabinet.

Krishna Bahadur Mahara was appointed Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Information. Top Bahadur Rayamajhi was appointed Minister for Physical Planning and Works, Barsha Man Pun was appointed Minister for Peace and Reconstruction and Khadga Bahadur Bishwokarma was made the country’s Tourism Minister.

“Our party has joined the government. The main objective of the country is to write the constitution in time and to finalise the peace process. It is the government’s main objective to create a consensus, keeping these two points in focus,” a foreign news agency quouted Deputy Prime Minister Mahara, as saying.

He added: “The next step is, we had entered into a seven-point deal with the government, which has become controversial. Despite that we are committed to create a consensus with the two priorities in mind.”

The government has until May 28 to finish drafting a new Constitution and resolve the fate of thousands of former Maoist soldiers who have been confined to camps since the end of the war.

In 2006, a peace deal ended the war between Maoists and the then-royal government in which more than 16,000 people were killed.

The Maoists won the most seats in the 2008 parliamentary elections and the monarchy was abolished. But the Maoist-led coalition was short lived and leader Pracahnda resigned after conflict with the president over the control of the national army. Nepal’s government has been in turmoil ever since.

Khanal has expanded his cabinet for the second time. The four leaders are from the Unified Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist).

The home ministry, the main bone of contention between the coalition partners will remain with Khanal for the time being.

Khanal was till now functioning with just three minister. (ANI)

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