Nepal’s 34th Prime Minister Jhalanath Khanal took oath of office on Sunday. But differences with coalition partner, the Maoists, overshadowed the ceremony.
Khanal was administered oath by President Ram Baran Yadav at a brief function at Shital Niwas, the official residence of Nepal’s President, in presence of a large number of dignitaries.
But contrary to earlier speculation that eight other ministers would also be sworn-in the same venue, no one else from Khanal’s party, the Communist Party of Nepal (UML) or the Maoists took oath.
Differences between Communist Party of Nepal (Unified Marxist Leninist) and Maoists over sharing of cabinet berths are stated to be the reason for failure of other ministers assuming office on Sunday.
Reports say that Maoists, the largest party in parliament, are unhappy with Khanal for trying to give the important Home Minister’s portfolio to his party colleague.
Maoists who are eyeing the post and other important ones including Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister threatened to quit the government if Khanal went ahead with his decision.
A meeting between Maoist chief Pushpa Kamal Dahal and Khanal ahead of the swearing in ceremony also failed to resolve the differences.
With no immediate solution in sight, it was decided that Khanal will take oath alone and the other ministers will be sworn in once both the coalition partners agree on sharing of portfolios.