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Last Updated: Saturday, 31 March 2007, 14:15 GMT 15:15 UK
Landmark Nepalese cabinet delayed
Maoist gathering in Nepal
The Maoists have emerged as a major political force
The expected swearing-in of a new cabinet in Nepal to include Maoists for the first time has been postponed until Sunday over a last-minute hitch.

It is reported to have arisen over the nominee for the post of foreign minister put forward by the second-biggest established party.

A deal was reached on Friday, with the Maoists getting five ministries.

The remaining 16 are being shared between the seven main political parties in the interim coalition.

The interim government and assembly have to organise constituent assembly elections to decide Nepal's future.

King Gyanendra relinquished key powers amid street protests last year, prompting a Maoist truce that brought 10 years of civil strife to an end.

At least 13,000 people died during the fighting.

The constituent assembly has to decide, among other issues, whether Nepal will remain as a kingdom or become a republic, as the Maoists want.

The election to the constituent assembly is scheduled to take place in June.

'Major achievement'

Under the agreement reached on Friday, the leader of the Nepali Congress Party, Girija Prasad Koirala, will continue as prime minister in the interim government.

There have been regular disputes since November's peace deal, with the Maoists often accused of failing to disarm and confine their fighters.

But the new deal was struck after a meeting between Mr Koirala, the leaders of seven parties and the Maoist leader, Prachanda.

"It's a major achievement, we have finally made the deal," Tourism Minister Pradeep Gyawali told the BBC.

Three of the biggest parties have each been assigned five ministries.

The home, defence and finance ministries are among those assigned to Mr Koirala's Nepali Congress Party.

The agreement gives the Maoists control of the information, development and forestry ministries, among others.

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