Nepal PM expands cabinet
Apr 29, 2007 - 3:16:02 PM

Kathmandu, April 29 - Four weeks after Nepal's new government, including the former Maoist guerrillas, was sworn in with 22 ministers, Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala Sunday expanded his cabinet after mounting pressure and anger from a junior ally in the ruling coalition.

Giriraj Pokhrel, a leader of People's Front, a junior member in the eight-party alliance, was Sunday named minister of health and population, after growing resentment in his party over being 'overlooked'.

Nepal's official media said more appointments are likely in this week when at least four ministers of state will be appointed.

In the previous seven-party government, also headed by Koirala, the health ministry was given to the same party. However, the difference was that the then health minister Amik Sherchan, who is also chief of his party, was one of the two deputy prime ministers as well.

After the government was dissolved last month to make way for a new one with the inclusion of the Maoists, the two earlier deputy premier posts were dropped, causing anger in People's Front.

The junior partner consequently stayed away from the government in a huff, not sending any member to the cabinet. The health ministry therefore was kept under the prime minister.

Last week, an influential leader of People's Front, Lilamani Pokhrel, had alleged that the prime minister had not made any move though his party had forwarded several names.

In Nepal's politics, power sharing has always been fraught with bitter infighting. Even though the eight parties united to oppose King Gyanendra's absolute rule, they have been accused of focusing more on getting plum posts for party men than holding the election, that will decide the fate of Nepal's 238-year-old monarchy.

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