Formation of Nepal cabinet put off amid `secret` deal row

UCPN-Maoist and CPN-UML could not forge a power sharing agreement.

Kathmandu: The formation of Nepal`s new
cabinet was put off Monday for the second consecutive day with
the CPN-UML failing to finalise a power sharing pact with its
key ally Maoists, amid reports that the new prime minister has
agreed to hand over the top job to Prachanda on May 24.

The cabinet formation by Jhalanath Khanal, who was
sworn in as Nepal`s new Prime Minister yesterday, was
postponed today as UCPN-Maoist and CPN-UML could not forge a
power sharing agreement.

As the meetings between top leaders of UCPN-Maoist and
CPN-UML failed to reach any agreement today, the formation of
cabinet was put off for the second consecutive day.

According to party sources, Khanal and Prachanda had
reached a seven-point "secret" deal before the Maoist chief
withdrew his candidacy from the Prime Ministerial race in
favour of the Communist leader on February 3.

According to a report in financial daily Arthik- Abhiyan, Khanal has agreed to hand over the government
leadership to Prachanda on May 24, four days ahead of the
stipulated deadline to promulgate the new constitution,
realising that it would not be drafted by May 28.

CPN-UML leader Pradip Gyawali, however, said he had no
information about any such agreement with specific date to
hand over power to the Maoists.

The seven point "secret" deal includes provisions that
the government will be led by rotation by the communists and
the Maoists, both Khanal and Prachand heading the army
integration mechanism and setting up of separate unit for the
Maoist combatants within the army as part of the process for
the integration of the former guerrillas.

Under the deal, the Maoists and the CPN-UML have also
agreed to share key cabinet posts, including Home, Defence and

The Maoists are sticking to the deal and have even
warned to withdraw support to the government if the "secret"
pact is not implemented, according to sources close to

However, Khanal is hesitant to implement the deal amid
a backlash in the party over the agreement.

CPN-UML standing committee is holding a crucial
meeting today to discuss key matters, including the "secret"
deal with the Maoists.

Nepali Congress has already condemned the deal, saying
that it has breached the peace agreement and the interim

The Central Working Committee meeting of the Nepali
Congress yesterday flayed the seven-point "secret agreement"
linked to the peace process and the monitoring of the arms and
the army of the former Maoist combatants.