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Nepal ruling coalition reaches power-sharing deal

By Shirish B Pradhan in Kathmandu
June 13, 2009 21:21 IST
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In a major breakthrough, Nepal's ruling coalition partners on Saturday sorted out the vexed issue of portfolio distribution and power sharing after they 'tentatively agreed to a deal' to give the 20-day-old Communist Party of Nepal-Unified Marxist Leninist government a "full shape" by Sunday.

Nepali Congress, CPN-UML and the Madhesi People's Rights Forum agreed for a deal to expand the Madhav Kumar Nepal-led cabinet, sources close to the coalition said.

The strength of the cabinet is likely to be 25. The Nepali Congress President Girija Prasad Koirala and Prime Minister Madav Nepal held a meeting and agreed to distribute key portfolios among themselves, Congress sources said.

"We have agreed to give the 12-member government a full shape by expanding the cabinet on Sunday," CPN-UML leader Bhim Rawal said.

The UML will keep Defence, Finance, Home, Communication and Tourism portfolios while the NC will be given Water Resources, Foreign Affairs, Local Development, Parliamentary Affairs, Health and Labour ministries, party sources said.

UML central leaders Bhim Rawal, Shanker Pokharel, Ravindra Shrestha and Raghubir Mahaseth are likely to be inducted in the Ministry. The UML has already two ministers in the cabinet. NC also has six ministers including Koirala's daughter Sujata Koirala with Foreign Affairs portfolio.

The remaining five ministers, who don't have any portfolio will be given ministries in Sunday's proposed expansion. MPRF will be given four ministries in the expansion, party sources said.

Portfolios of other smaller parties will be decided on Saturday. The cabinet will have 24-25 ministers. Earlier Koirala met CPN-UML's senior leader KP Sharma Oli and held consultations on issues relating to the cabinet expansion.

Nepal was sworn in on May 25 following Maoist chief Prachanda's resignation from the top post over the controversial issue of sacking of army chief Gen Rukmangad Katawal. The 22-party alliance had earlier formed a 'task force' to sort out the modalities to expand the cabinet.

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Shirish B Pradhan in Kathmandu
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