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Communist leader sworn in as Nepal’s new premier

By Sudeshna Sarkar, IANS,

Kathmandu : The one-year-old republic of Nepal got its second prime minister Monday with veteran communist leader Madhav Kumar Nepal being sworn in by President Ram Baran Yadav, in a brief ceremony in Rastrapati Bhavan, the presidential office, at 11.10 a.m. local time.

Though a three-week impasse after the fall of the Maoist government finally ended, there were signs of continuing internal turmoil among Nepal’s coalition partners with still no clear picture emerging about the new cabinet.

While Nepal’s own party, the Communist Party of Nepal-Unified Marxist Leninist (UML), has decided to send two ministers for now in the fledgling cabinet, the other main parties were yet to reach a decision.

UML secretary Shankar Pokhrel said Surendra Pandey, a trusted lieutenant of Nepal, will represent the party in the cabinet as well as Bidya Devi Bhandari.

However, their portfolios have not been decided yet.

Bhandari is the widow of charismatic UML leader Madan Bhandari who died tragically in a car crash.

Though the Maoists have said they would boycott the new government, they however sent their deputy chief in parliament, Narayan Kaji Shrestha, to attend the swearing-in that was also attended by senior government officials, politicians, diplomats based in Kathmandu and army officials, including army chief Gen Rookmangud Katawal.

The previous Maoist government had collapsed after a row with the UML and other allies over sacking the army chief.

Nepal declined to take his oath of office and secrecy in the name of god.

Last year, Nepal’s first Maoist prime minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal Prachanda too had refused to take the oath in the name of god. Instead, the former revolutionary had said he was taking his oath of office and secrecy in the name of the people.