New Nepal PM takes oath, forms small cabinet

Kathmandu, Oct 12 (IANS) Barely three weeks after a democratic federal constitution was promulgated in Nepal, Khadga Prasad Sharma Oli was on Monday sworn-in as the new prime minister heading an eight-member cabinet.

President Ram Baran Yadav administered the oaths of office and secrecy to Communist Party of Nepal (United Marxist Leninist) chairman Oli and his cabinet colleagues at a brief function in Sheetal Niwas, the presidential palace, here.

Oli, who was elected prime minister by the country’s parliament on Sunday, named two deputy premiers in Bijaya Kumar Gachhadar and Kamal Thapa.

The two have been rewarded for the support they extended to Oli during Sunday’s vote against immediate past premier Sushil Koirala, of the Nepali Congress.

While Thapa heads Nepal’s only royalist party, the Rastriya Prajatantra Party-Nepal, Gachhadar is chairman of the Madhesi Janadhikar Forum-Loktantrik (Madhesi Rights Forum-Democratic) — which chose to break away from the ongoing anti-constitution agitation by the Madhesi community and ethnic people of Nepal’s southern Terai plains.

While Gachhadar was allotted the physical infrastructure and transport ministry, Thapa — a former foreign minister — will again head the foreign ministry.

The five administered oath as ministers were Agni Kharel, Satya Narayan Mandal and Som Pandey — all from Oli’s CPN(UML), Ram Kumar Subba of Thapa’s RPP-N and Haribol Gajurel of the CPN (Maoist).

Gajurel’s ministerial berth came as a reward to the Maoists — the third largest group in parliament — for the support they extended to Oli in Sunday’s prime ministerial contest

Oli secured 338 votes of the 598 lawmakers participating in the exercise. He comfortably defeated Nepali Congress president Koirala who managed 249 votes.

Oli was supported by the UCPN-Maoist, Rastriya Prajatantra Party-Nepal, Madhesi Janadhikar Forum-Loktantrik and 11 other parties in the prime ministerial contest.

Among the ministers allotted portfolios, Kharel will be minister for law, justice, Constituent Assembly and parliamentary affairs; Gajurel is the agricultural development minister and Panday will head the industry ministry.

The portfolios of Mandal and Subba were not yet announced.

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