Nepalese party refuses to join ruling coalition

KATHMANDU (TIP): A day after Nepal got its new democratically elected prime minister, differences between two biggest political parties have surfaced over allocation of ministerial portfolios.

The Communist Party of Nepal (Unified Marxist- Leninist), the main backer of Nepali Congress’s Sushil Koirala, 74, as prime minister, announced on Tuesday it would not join the government if it was not given powerful home ministry and deputy prime ministership. Following a meeting of the party’s standing committee, CPN-UML secretary Bishnu Poudel said his party would not join the government unless the portfolios were given to them as agreed earlier.

There had been a seven-point agreement between the two parties on Sunday after which the CPN-UML agreed to support Koirala. With 196 seats in the 601- member parliament, Nepali Congress had to get the support of CPN-UML to form the government. In a parliamentary vote on Monday, Koirala got 405 votes. Although ministerial portfolio allocation was not one of the points of the agreement, the CPN-UML maintains there had been a verbal agreement over the home ministry.

Nepali Congress general secretary Prakash Man Singh said there had been no such agreement. “The negotiating team from the two parties had given this responsibility to the top leaders.” He said talks will continue. “We will try to have them join the government.” Koirala was sworn in as prime minister on Tuesday with only Ram Sharan Mahat of Nepali Congress joining him in the cabinet without portfolio.

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