Nepalese Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba on Friday announced induction of eight new ministers while setting a “quiet deadline” for his Maoist cabinet colleagues to resign or face dismissal. The induction on Saturday would coincide with the dissolution of Parliament on Saturday. Deuba’s move comes despite a warning from the newly-formed Left alliance and the country’s chief Election Commissioner (CEC).
The new ministers — four each cabinet and minister of state rank — belong to the Rastriya Janata Party (RJP), whose leader Kamal Thapa will be the new Deputy Prime Minister. He is likely to be given the key Home Ministry portfolio that Maoist leader Janardan Sharma is in charge of.
Deuba is believed to have conveyed his message through Deputy Prime Minister K B Mahara and Sharma that he would be compelled to take the “extreme and unpleasant” step if the Maoists do not withdraw from the ministry by Saturday. The Maoists had joined the opposition Left alliance recently.
The CEC as well as the alliance, comprising the Communist Party of Nepal-Unified Marxist Leninist and the Communist Party of Nepal-Maoist Centre, had warned Deuba against inducting fresh ministers or sacking the Maoists. They maintained that the move would violate the election code of conduct.
It is still unknown how the alliance that came to existence last week with the Maoists joining the fold without pulling out of the government will react.
A likely confrontation over the issue is likely to influence elections in the country on November 26 and December 7. Sources said President Bidhya Devi Bhandari will seek legal opinion on Deuba’s move and the opposition protest.
Nepal’s constitution requires ministers to be Parliament members. This is why Deuba announced the list of ministers a day before Parliament’s term ends.
Separately, former Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai announced he would be quitting the alliance if he is not given ticket from Gorkha.