Maoists join govt after month-long dispute

Kathmandu: Nepal`s Maoist on Friday joined the Communist party-led government, as four of its top leaders took oath as members of the cabinet after a month-long row with new Prime Minister Jhala Nath Khanal over portfolio allocations.

Khanal administered the oath of office and secrecy to four Maoist ministers, Krishna Bahadur Mahara, Top Bahadur Rayamajhi, Barshaman Pun and Khadga Bahadur Bishwokarma.

Senior leader Mahara was appointed the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Information and Communication, while Pun has been appointed the Minister for Peace and Reconstruction.

Rayamajhi was allocated the Ministry for Physical Planning and Works while the Ministry for Tourism and Civil Aviation went to Bishwakarma.

With the new inductions, the cabinet has eight ministers, including the Prime Minister.

CPN-UML last month had inducted Bharat Mohan Adhikari as Finance Minister and Bishnu Paudel and Gangalal Tuladhar as ministers without portfolios soon after the election of Khanal.

Reports earlier said that the UCPN-Maoist, the largest party in the 601-member Parliament, has been allocated a quota of 11 ministries. They are are yet to finalise the names for the other ministers amid differences in the party.

Maoist spokesperson Dinanath Sharma, however, said there was no deadlock in the party. He said the next meeting of the party`s standing committee would finalise the names of the remaining seven candidates.

60-year-old Khanal yesterday failed to expand his cabinet due to last-minute differences with the Maoists, who had till now been adamant on the key Home ministry for the crucial support to the government.

The induction of the Maoists in the government comes as a relief for Khanal, who had failed to give shape to a "secret" power-sharing deal with the former rebels who were instrumental in his victory after more than seven months of stalemate and 17 attempts on February 3.

It is expected to help bring stability to the country which has been deadlocked over the formation of a new government.

A "secret" pact between Prachanda and Khanal had sparked a row in the country as it is reported to include provisions such as sharing Prime Ministerial post between the communist leader and the Maoist supremo on rotational basis and forming separate unit in Nepal Army after the integration of the former Maoist combatants with the military.

The political deadlock has delayed the framing of a new constitution and stalled the 2006 peace process.

The Maoists, who led a decade-long insurgency before joining mainstream politics in 2006 and emerging as the largest single party in 2008, had pushed for leading a new coalition. However, the former rebels failed to garner a majority in Parliament to form a coalition.