Nepal PM expands cabinet, Home Ministry goes to CPN-UML
Kathmandu: Nepal`s new Prime Minister Sushil Koirala on Tuesday expanded his cabinet by giving the powerful Home Ministry to main coalition partner CPN-UML, ending the uncertainty that had held up the formation of the government.
The cabinet expansion came two weeks after Koirala was sworn in as the Prime Minister.
The demand by the CPN-UML, led by Jhala Nath Khanal, to be given the important Home Affairs portfolio was the main issue holding up the formation of the government. The party had refused to join the government unless it got the portfolio.
Today, 19 ministers were inducted in the cabinet during a swearing-in ceremony at Rastrapati Bhawan. The ministers took oath of office from Koirala in the presence of President Ram Baran Yadav.
With the induction of new ministers, the cabinet now has 21 members including the Prime Minister.
There are two Deputy Prime Ministers in the new cabinet -- Prakash Man Singh, Nepali Congress general secretary, who was also given the Ministry of Local Development and CPN-UML vice president Bam Dev Gautam, who will also serve as Home Minister.
Two women who were also included in the cabinet are Chitralekha Yadav from Nepali Congress and Radha Kumari Gyawali from CPN-UML.
Mahendra Pandey from CPN-UML will be the new Foreign Affairs Minister. Ram Sharan Mahat from Nepali Congress will serve as Finance Minister. Prime Minister also holds the Defence Ministry.
Senior leader of Nepali Congress Bimalendra Nidhi has been given the Ministry of Physical Planning and Construction while Karna Bahadur Thapa of CPN-UML got the Industry Ministry.
The new cabinet include 10 members each from the Nepali Congress and the CPN-UML, the second largest party in the Constituent Assembly.
The two-member cabinet headed by Prime Minister Koirala took oath on February 11. The premier has been unable to expand his cabinet for nearly two weeks after his swearing-in due to differences with the CPN-UML on the issue of sharing power.
Without the support of CPN-UML`s 173 lawmakers, the government`s position will be shaky as the Nepali Congress has only 194 seats in the 601-member Constituent Assembly.
The government also needs the CPN-UML`s support to present the budget for the new fiscal in July.
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