Nepal PM gives Maoists home ministry to save post | world | Hindustan Times
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Nepal PM gives Maoists home ministry to save post

world Updated: Feb 16, 2011 15:53 IST
Utpal Parashar

The ongoing political drama of twists and turns in Nepal continued on Wednesday with Maoists retracting from their earlier stance and deciding to join the Jhalanath Khanal government.

The development came after the Prime Minister agreed to hand over the important home ministry to the larger coalition partner despite stiff opposition with aim of saving the new government.

Despite voting the Communist Party of Nepal (Unified Marxist Leninist) chief to power, Maoists had earlier decided to stay out of government following a tussle over the home portfolio.

On Wednesday, Khanal and Maoist chief Pushpa Kamal Dahal 'Prachanda' reached an agreement that the largest party in parliament would get 11 ministries including home and foreign affairs.

The CPN (UML) would get eight ministries including finance and the Deputy PM portfolio while the other ministries will be allotted to smaller parties joining the coalition.

Local media quoted senior Maoist leader Barsha Man Pun that Maoist ministers are likely to be sworn in on Thursday.

Pun, a former deputy chief of Peoples' Liberation Army, the military wing of Maoists is likely to get the home portfolio while the party's external affairs chief Krishna Bahadur Mahara could be the next foreign minister.

Despite assuming charge 10 days ago, Khanal's government has not started functioning effectively as only three ministers have been sworn in till date.

The new PM has been facing flak from party colleagues including predecessor Madhav Kumar Nepal for keeping others in the dark about his secret deal for power with Prachanda.

There are reservations on giving the home ministry to Maoists as well as clauses in the deal on forming a separate security force for Maoist combatants and heading the government on rotational basis.

Nepali Congress, a coalition partner in the previous CPN (UML)-led government, other smaller parties and political experts had also cautioned Khanal against giving the home ministry to Maoists.

Reports on Prachanda telling cadres that the ministry would help withdraw cases of rights abuse against party members and boost plans for a peoples' revolt have led to such fears.