Concerns over future of new Nepal govt as differences over cabinet berths emerge between ruling allies

Kathmandu: Questions are already being raised over the future of the new Nepal government, a day after CPN-UML leader KP Sharma Oli was sworn in as prime minister, as no ministers from ally CPN-Maoist Centre have been included in the Cabinet.

The government was formed with the support of the CPN-Maoist Centre — the third largest party in parliament — which has 53 seats, but no Maoist ministers were part of the Cabinet during the oath-taking ceremony on Thursdy where Oli was sworn in as Nepal's prime minister for the second time.

File image of Nepal prime minister KP Sharma Oli. AFP

File image of Nepal prime minister KP Sharma Oli. AFP

According to sources close to the CPN-Maoist Centre, the Maoist leaders did not take oath after their demand for the portfolio of the deputy prime minister was turned down by Oli.

It is learnt that CPN-UML general secretary Ishwor Pokharel is eyeing the post of deputy prime minister in the new Cabinet.

Known for his pro-China stance, Oli had earlier served as the country's prime minister from 11 October, 2015 to 3 August, 2016.

His candidacy was supported by the CPN-Maoist, Rastriya Prajatantra Party Nepal, and Madhesi Rights Forum-Democratic along with 13 other small parties.

CPN-UML secured only 121 seats in the 275-member Parliament, which is short of minimum 50 per cent plus seats to garner majority support.

The new government needs support from at least 138 members. The combined strength of CPN-UML and CPN-Maoist is 174, which is thus more than sufficient to form a government.

But Oli needs to win a vote of confidence in parliament within a month of his appointment. The Cabinet has to recommend to the president the date to summon the first session of the new parliament.

The Constitution has a mandatory provision for a prime minister appointed with the support of two or more parties to win a vote of confidence from parliament within a month of his or her appointment.

Oli had submitted the decision of the CPN-UML and CPN-Maoist Centre claiming his appointment as prime minister, in line with clause 2 of Article 76 of the Constitution.

"Prime Minister Oli himself will soon table a motion in parliament in a bid to win a vote of confidence," said senior CPN-UML leader Agni Kharel. According to this mandatory provision, Oli must win the confidence vote by 15 March.

As the CPN-Maoist Centre had refused to join the ministry after power-sharing negotiations failed between the two big parties, Oli appointed only two ministers, both from his own party, to his Cabinet during the swearing-in ceremony.

However, newly-appointed Minister for Population and Environment Lal Babua Pandit claimed that the Maoists will join the Cabinet within a few days.

He said the Cabinet will be expanded within a couple of days with the inclusion of ministers from the CPN-Maoist Centre.

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Updated Date: Feb 16, 2018 22:23:53 IST