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Madhav Nepal sworn-in as Nepal PM

May 25, 2009 14:23 IST

Madhav Kumar Nepal was sworn-in on Monday as the Prime Minister of Nepal along with two cabinet ministers, capping the three-week long political crisis in the country that eased Maoists out of power after a confrontation with the army.

56-year-old Nepal, who was elected unopposed as the Prime Minister by the Constituent Assembly on Saturday, was sworn-in by President Ram Baran Yadav at the Sheetal Niwas in Kathmandu.

Communist Party of Nepal-United Maoist Leninist leaders Vidya Bhandari and Surendra Pandey also took the oath of office and secrecy at the ceremony.

The three-member cabinet is likely to be expanded within a few days as coalition partners -- Nepali Congress and Madhesi People's Rights Forum -- are yet to decide on the names to be included in the ministry.

Madhav Nepal was clad in the national dress of Daura Suruwal (Nepali shirt and trouser), grey coat and black Nepali cap during the ceremony. Last year, breaking the tradition, Maoist chief Prachanda took oath of office wearing tie, suit and a cap.

Nepali Congress president Girija Prasad Koirala and former Prime Minister Prachanda were conspicuous by their absence at the ceremony. Sources said Koirala could not make it to the function as he is unwell. CPN-Maoist's senior leader Narayan Kaji Shrestha"Prakash" and acting president of Nepali Congress Shushil Koirala were present at the ceremony.

After the ceremony, Nepal assumed office and paid homage to martyrs at Shahid Park in Lainchaur.

Nepal replaced Prachanda who resigned as premier on May 4 after differences with President Ram Baran Yadav on the issue of sacking of army chief General Rukmangad Katawal. The Maoists, whose nearly nine-month old government collapsed after CPN-UML withdrew support, had blocked Parliament for weeks before allowing the government formation.

As prime minister, Nepal faces a series of challenges--taking the peace process forward, rewriting the statute, consolidating democracy in the country that abolished its 240-year monarchy last year to become a republic and tackling the Maoists, sulking after being pushed out of power.

Meanwhile, Nepali Congress held consultations with senior party leaders on the names to be included in the Cabinet. Sources said the party will hold discussions with the Prime Minister regarding the common minimum programme.

"We held extensive meeting at Koirala's residence but we have not yet decided about names and portfolios from our party to be included in the new cabinet," said Bimalendra Nidhi, General Secretary of the party.

"We will definitely join the government but it will take 2-3 days for us to finalise the names," he said. Three fringe left parties--CPN-United, CPN-Unified and Nepal Workers and Peasants Party--have decided to extend support from outside.

Shirish B Pradhan in Kathmandu
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