Top judge sworn-in as Nepal PM, polls by June 21

Last Updated: Thursday, March 14, 2013 - 18:09

Kathmandu: Chief Justice Khil Raj Regmi was on Thursday sworn-in as Nepal`s new Prime Minister to head an interim government that will hold elections by June 21, ending months of political and constitutional crisis in the country.

Regmi, 63, was sworn in as the head of interim election government as a part of the 11-point deal reached among major parties, UCPN-Maoist, Nepali Congress, CPN-UML and Joint Madhesi Front, on Wednesday during a marathon meeting.

The parties also agreed to conduct polls before June 21 and to defer the date till November in case an unfavourable situation emerges.

President Ram Baran Yadav earlier Thursday administered oath of office and secrecy to Regmi at Sheetal Niwas in the presence of top leaders of the major political parties.

Regmi also inducted two former bureaucrats into the Cabinet today.

Madhav Ghimire has been appointed Minister for Home and Foreign Affairs whereas Hari Prasad Neupane was sworn in as Minister for Law and Justice and Labour.

Regmi today attended his office at Singhdurbar Secretariat. The first Cabinet meeting of the government chaired by Regmi assured to conduct free and fair election within the stipulated time frame.

Regmi thanked the political parties for bestowing the Cabinet the responsibility to hold elections in the transitional phase.

The Cabinet called on the agitating political parties to get engaged in conducting Constituent Assembly Elections, saying that it is the only way to end the political deadlock faced by the country.

The Cabinet also requested the civil society, media, press and others to create a conducive environment for the polls.

This will be for the first time in Nepalese political history that a sitting Chief Justice has been named as the Head of the Government.

The appointment of Regmi ends an impasse since the last Parliament`s term expired almost a year ago. Elections set for November 2012 were cancelled because of the political infighting.

Over a dozen political parties, including the breakaway faction of UCPN-Maoist, and other fringe parties, called a general strike in Kathmandu Valley from 12 noon till 5 pm today to show protest against the formation of the government under the chief justice.

The major parties yesterday agreed on four key issues among others: forming a Truth and Reconciliation Commission for providing transitional justice, giving one Colonel and two Lt Colonel posts to the Maoist combatants integrated into the Nepal Army, updating voters` list before the Constituent Assembly Elections and resolve issues relating to citizenship certificate distribution.

The top leaders of the major political parties who signed the deal include Maoist chief Prachanda, Nepali Congress President Sushil Koirala, CPN-UML chairman Jhalanath Khanal and senior Madhesi leader and representative of Joint Democratic Madhesi Front Bijaya Kumar Gachhadar.

Nepal had plunged into a serious political and constitutional crisis after the political parties failed to deliver a constitution before the dissolution of the Constituent Assembly in May last year.

Talking to a news agency after the swearing-in ceremony, Nepali Congress president Sushil Koirala said that the formation of the national election government led by the Chief Justice would not only pave the way to resolve the current political stalemate but also help to strengthen democracy in the country.

Conducting election is very important at this moment as fresh mandate will safeguard democracy and ensure people`s participation, he pointed out. Nepali Congress will not compromise with any force on the principles of democracy and human rights, he said.

Meanwhile, the US issued a statement congratulating the Nepalese people on reaching an agreement for the formation of the new interim election government, which will carry the responsibility of overseeing national elections. "This has been a complex and challenging process and the US commends the parties for their willingness to make the compromises necessary to achieve this important political milestone," a statement issued by the US embassy in Kathmandu said.

The formation of the Interim Council of Ministers for elections lays a foundation for vital further action, including completing and adopting Nepal`s new Constitution and holding free, fair, and inclusive national elections in June that reflect the will of the Nepali people, it said.

As in the past, the US stands ready to assist Nepal as these national elections approach, the statement said.

PTI



First Published: Thursday, March 14, 2013 - 11:20

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