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Nepal government appoints five former communist rebels as Cabinet ministers

Nepal government appoints five former communist rebels as Cabinet ministers

Nepal's government appointed five former communist rebels as ministers Sunday following an agreement to end the Himalayan nation's political crisis, three months after the ex-guerrillas walked out of a ruling coalition.
The ex-rebels, known as Maoists, were appointed ministers by Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala, the chief secretary Bhojraj Ghimire said.
Two of the five will hold key positions.
The Maoists' spokesman Krishna Bahadur Mahara will be minister for communication and information, with control of all state-run media, while Dev Gurung is be the minister for local development, controlling city and village councils.
Matrika Yadav will be minister for forest and soil conservation, while Hisila Yami is to be the minister for physical planning.
"We fought for a constituent assembly for 10 years. It will be our priority to make the election to the assembly a success. As a responsible party representing the people we will do all we can to work for the nation and the people and for sustainable peace," Yami told The Associated Press.
Four of the five new ministers had already served in the government between April and September. Only Pampha Bhusal is new to the Cabinet, and will be the minister for women and social welfare.
The five will take an oath of office on Monday, Ghimire said.
The ex-rebels agreed to rejoin the interim coalition government after the country's seven main political parties agreed last week to abolish the country's monarchy immediately after elections scheduled for April.
The Maoists withdrew from the government on Sept. 18 demanding electoral reform and the immediate removal of the king, plunging Nepal into a political crisis and forcing the government to postpone elections initially scheduled for November.
The decision to abolish the centuries-old monarchy and turn Nepal into a republic was endorsed by Parliament on Friday, along with amendments to the interim constitution ensuring the Maoists are included in the Cabinet.
The monarch, King Gyanendra, seized absolute control over the country in 2005, but was forced to relinquish most of his powers following widespread protests in April 2006. The king is to be removed immediately after April elections for a constituent assembly, which will be charged with rewriting Nepal's constitution.
The communist rebels gave up their decade-long armed revolt last year in a peace process with the government after more than 13,000 people died in the fighting.
"The re-entry of Maoists in the government has certainly ended the political uncertainties in Nepal," said Krishna Khanal, a political science professor at the Tribhuwan University in Katmandu. "They have been the biggest hurdle in the election process, now this obstacle is removed."
Khanal said whether elections can be held depends on how the government handles the trouble in the south.
Several ethnic rights groups in southern Nepal have been organizing strikes, transportation stoppages and demonstrations demanding greater rights. These protests have often turned violent.
Many southerners say their region has been neglected in favor of the more populated north. They are demanding greater autonomy, more seats in the national legislature, and a guaranteed number of representatives in the administration.


Updated : 2020-12-05 05:21 GMT+08:00