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Prachanda expands Nepal cabinet

Nepal's first post-monarchy cabinet has been expanded with the induction of 15 new Ministers, including six from a major Communist party in the Maoist-led coalition.

world Updated: Aug 31, 2008 19:49 IST

Nepal's first post-monarchy cabinet was expanded on Sunday with the induction of 15 new Ministers, including six from a major Communist party in the Maoist-led coalition that joined the government after differences over ministerial hierarchy were resolved.

Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal 'Prachanda' inducted six Ministers each from CPN-Maoist and CPN-UML, also giving three berths to smaller coalition partners. With this, the strength of the ministry reached 24.

Senior UML leader Bam Dev Gautam has been appointed as the Home Minister, the second-ranking portfolio, while the others from the party to join the cabinet were Minister for Water Resources Bishnu Poudyal, Local Development Minister Ramchandra Jha, Minister for Forest and Soil Conservation Kiran Gurung, Minister for Industry Ashta Laxmi Shakya and Minister for Youth and Sports Gopal Shakya.

The CPN-UML, the third largest party in the Constituent Assembly, had boycotted the oath-taking ceremony of the new cabinet on August 22 after the Maoists rejected their demand that Gautam's Home Ministry will have the second position according to seniority.

The Maoists were insisting that the Finance Ministry, which remains with the party, will be the number two post in the cabinet.

The cabinet expansion and resolution of differences with CPN-UML consolidates the Maoists' hold on power. The former rebels emerged as the single largest party in the landmark April 10 Constituent Assembly elections.