Nepal Prime Minister Jhalanath Khanal expanded his cabinet for the second time on Friday with inclusion of four Maoist leaders.
The four leaders from Unified Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) were administered oath of office by Khanal at a brief function held at Shital Niwas, the official residence of President Ram Baran Yadav.
The Maoist ministers will be led by standing committee member Krishna Bahadur Mahra, the new Deputy Prime Minister who will also head the information and communication ministry.
Head of UCPN (M)’s external affairs wing, Mahra had been in news last year for allegedly seeking NRS 50 million from a Chinese source to ‘fund’ Maoist chairman Pushpa Kumar Dahal’s bid for the PM’s post.
Other Maoist ministers in the Khanal cabinet are Top Bahadur Raymajhi (Physical Planning and Works), Barshaman Pun (Peace and Reconstruction) and Khadga Bahadur Biswokorma (Tourism).
“The party’s standing committee unanimously approved these four names on Friday. Names of the other seven ministers who will join the cabinet will be announced soon,” said Maoist spokesperson Dinanath Sharma.
The home ministry, the main bone of contention between coalition partners Communist Party of Nepal (Unified Marxist Leninist) and UCPN (M) will remain with Khanal for the time being.
Khanal who was sworn in on February 6 was functioning with just three ministers till now due to differences within his party and with UCPN (M) over a secret deal for power he signed with Dahal.