Nepal Minute - out of the ordinary


The ruling coalition has sorted out the division of ministries, paving the way for a Cabinet expansion. Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal Prachanda will appoint new Cabinet members on Tuesday. They will be administered oath of office and secrecy at 1pm.

A meeting of the high-level political mechanism on Monday evening ironed out any lingering disagreements over division of ministries. The PM convened the mechanism’s meeting at Baluwatar hours after he held talks with CPN-UML Chair KP Sharma Oli.

Emerging out of the meeting on Monday evening, Deputy Prime Minister and Home Minister Rabi Lamichhane said: "We've finalised the division of ministries. We will make the ministers public tomorrow."

Earlier in the afternoon, PM Prachanda and Oli met over lunch at the latter's home Balkot to discuss matters relating to the Cabinet expansion as well as the latest political developments. 

After winning the vote of confidence on January 10, PM Prachanda plans to give a final shape to his Cabinet. He garnered the support of 268 of the 270 lawmakers who were present in parliament, the highest number of votes a PM has ever received.

Sources in the UML and Maoist parties said the coalition partners had agreed to a deal: one minister for every eight members at the House of Representatives. 

Accordingly, the CPN-UML, the largest party in the ruling coalition, will get eight ministers.

Bishnu Paudel, Deputy Prime Minister, has taken over the Ministry of Finance. However, three other UML ministers who took oath on December 26 have been without responsibilities due to the pending allocation of other ministries.

The CPN (Maoist Centre) will get four ministers. Narayankaji Shrestha, who became Deputy Prime Minister, has taken charge of the Ministry of Physical Infrastructure. Other ministries have not been finalised yet.

The Rastriya Swotantra Party (RSP) and the Rastriya Prajatantra Party (RPP) will get three ministries and a minister of state each, with Janamat Party getting a minister.

The RSP will get two more ministers, in addition to the Home Ministry that the party chief Rabi Lamichhane now holds.

According to sources, besides education and labour ministries, the Baluwatar meeting allocated the Deputy Speaker to the RSP. 

The RPP has been assured of a Deputy Prime Minister with energy, urban development and youth and sports ministries. Party chair Rajendra Lingden will assume the role of DPM and Minister for Energy.

Janamat Party, Nagarik Unmukti Party and Loktantrik Samajbadi Party have been allotted one ministry each.

Meanwhile, the Janata Samajwadi Party (JSP) Chair Upendra Yadav has refused to join the government despite being offered two ministers. UML and Maoist leaders have asked RSP President Lamichhane to convince the JSP chief. 

Prachanda and Oli have been engaged in extensive discussions for quite some time. Earlier, they held talks on matter relating to the expansion of the Cabinet and power-sharing, at Baluwatar on Thursday. The two leaders have agreed to lead the government on a rotation basis.

As per the agreement between the two parties, Prachanda will be the Prime Minister for the first two and a half years, with UML’s choice of the candidate taking up the post of Speaker.

The election for the Speaker has been scheduled for Thursday, January 19. The UML and Maoist parties have agreed to share the terms of the premiership and Speaker. 

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