Nepal Maoists fail to join cabinet amid differences

Nepal Prime Minister Jhala Nath Khanal on Thursday failed to expand his cabinet due to last-minute differences with the Maoists, who have demanded the key Home ministry for the crucial support to the government.

Updated: Mar 04, 2011, 00:40 AM IST

Kathmandu: Nepal Prime Minister Jhala Nath
Khanal on Thursday failed to expand his cabinet due to last-minute
differences with the Maoists, who have demanded the key Home
ministry for the crucial support to the government.

The Maoists had decided to join the government under
the leadership of of senior leader Krishna Bahadur Mahara, but
the party failed to agree on the names of its ministers even
after several rounds of meetings of its powerful standing
committee.

Khanal seemes to have reached an understanding with
the Maoists over sharing of government ministries, with
indications that the former rebels may get 11 portfolios in
the new cabinet, including Home and Foreign Affairs.

60-year-old Khanal`s cabinet formation has been
delayed as the Prime Minister had failed to finalise a
power-sharing deal with the Maoists, with whose support he won
the election after more than seven months of stalemate and 17
attempts on February 3.

UCPN-Maoist, the largest party in the House, had vowed
to stay away from the government till it was given important
portfolios, including the Home ministry.

A "secret" pact between Prachanda and Khanal had
sparked a row in the country as it is reported to include
provisions such as sharing Prime Ministerial post between the
communist leader and the Maoist supremo on rotational basis
and forming separate unit in Nepal Army after the integration
of the former Maoist combatants with the military.

Not only the main opposition Nepali Congress, but
senior CPN-UML leaders, including K.P. Oli and former Prime
Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal, have raised objection to the
deal.

Meanwhile, Nepali Congress has said that the peace
process should be taken to a logical conclusion before the
promulgation of the new constitution.

At present there are only three ministers beside Prime
Minister Khanal in the UML-led cabinet.

A meeting of the party’s central working committee
held at its headquarters in Sanepa today expressed
dissatisfaction over the slow progress in the peace process.

"The meeting has decided to push for concluding the
peace process before the promulgation of new constitution,
said party?s spokesman Arjun Narsingh Khatrichhetri.

The NC said promulgation of new constitution would be
possible only after completing the remaining task of peace
process, including the management of Maoist combatants and
their arms.

PTI