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Last Updated: Tuesday, 2 May 2006, 09:37 GMT 10:37 UK
Nepal premier unveils new cabinet
Girija Prasad Koirala
PM Koirala has been dogged by ill-health
Nepal's new prime minister, Girija Prasad Koirala, has named a seven-member cabinet with a Communist party leader as his deputy.

KP Oli of the United Marxist Leninist Party will hold dual charge as deputy prime minister and foreign minister.

Mr Koirala took over as prime minister last week after King Gyanendra restored the country's parliament following weeks of democracy protests.

Parliament immediately voted to hold elections to a constituent assembly.

That body will be empowered to draw up a new constitution and could determine if Nepal will remain a monarchy or turn into a republic.

The new cabinet includes four members of Mr Koirala's Nepali Congress Party and one each from the UML, the Nepali Congress Party (Democratic) of former premier Sher Bahadur Deuba and the United Left Front.

Krishna Sitaula has been named as the country's home minister and Ram Sharan Mahat as the finance minister.

The ministers were sworn-in at the parliament building instead of the royal palace, which has been the traditional venue of such ceremonies.

Maoists

No date has been announced for elections to a constituent assembly which has been a long-standing demand of the country's Maoist rebels.

Reconvened Nepali assembly
Parliament voted to hold polls for a constituent assembly

On Monday, senior rebel leader Baburam Bhattarai told the BBC that the Maoists would respect the decision of the body if elections to it were "free and fair".

He also said the constituent assembly would have to have sovereign powers to decide on the fate of the monarchy.

"Our point of view is that it has to be a sovereign constituent assembly which can decide on the abolition of monarchy, and an institutionalised democratic republic," he told the BBC.

The present constitution enshrines Nepal's constitutional monarchy.

Correspondents say, however, that the mood during the recent pro-democracy protests were decidedly republican.

King Gyanendra ended more than a year of absolute rule after weeks of protests led by a seven-party opposition alliance which also received loose backing from the Maoists.


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