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Nepal's PM sworn in, but loses coalition partner

Tuesday - 2/11/2014, 6:54am  ET

Nepal’s newly elected prime minister Sushil Koirala, stands in front of the honor guards during the oath taking ceremony at the presidential palace in Katmandu, Nepal, Tuesday, Feb. 11, 2014. Koirala, the leader of Nepal's largest and oldest political party, was elected prime minister on Monday with majority support in parliament that is likely to ease the political instability in the Himalayan nation. (AP Photo/Niranjan Shrestha)

BINAJ GURUBACHARYA
Associated Press

KATMANDU, Nepal (AP) -- Nepal's newly elected prime minister was sworn into office on Tuesday, but his party's main coalition partner announced it will not join the government, bringing renewed political uncertainty to the nation.

Sushil Koirala, the leader of Nepal's largest and oldest political party, Nepali Congress, was sworn in by President Ram Baran Yadav.

Koirala was expected to announce a portion of his Cabinet but appointed just one minister, senior party member Ram Sharan Mahat.

Nepali Congress's main coalition partner, the Communist Party of Nepal (United Marxist Leninist), said it would not join the government because Koirala had failed to honor an agreement to give it the powerful home minister portfolio.

Both parties want to lead the Home Ministry, which controls the police force and local administrations across the nation.

"We will not join the government until they honor the agreement, and have decided to boycott the swearing-in ceremony," Bishnu Poudel of the coalition party told reporters.

Koirala secured the votes of more than two-third of the members of the Constituent Assembly on Monday with the backing of the Communists, the second-largest party.

He will remain in office, but it will be difficult for him to work if he does not have their full support.

Koirala's strong majority in Monday's vote among lawmakers had led to hopes that the Himalayan nation's long political paralysis was easing.

No party won a majority of seats in the Nov. 19 national election. Nepali Congress secured the most seats but needed a coalition partner to form a government.

A constitution was supposed to have been written by the last Constituent Assembly, which was elected in 2008 following the end of a 10-year Maoist insurgency and the overthrow of the centuries-old monarchy. But the assembly was riven by infighting and never finished its work.


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