Formation of Nepal cabinet put off amid 'secret' deal row

The cabinet formation by Jhalanath Khanal, who was sworn in as Nepal's new Prime Minister yesterday, was postponed today as UCPN-Maoist and CPN-UML could not forge a power sharing agreement.

As the meetings between top leaders of UCPN-Maoist and CPN-UML failed to reach any agreement today, the formation of cabinet was put off for the second consecutive day.
According to party sources, Khanal and Prachanda had reached a seven-point "secret" deal before the Maoist chief withdrew his candidacy from the Prime Ministerial race in favour of the Communist leader on February 3.

According to a report in financial daily Arthik  Abhiyan, Khanal has agreed to hand over the government leadership to Prachanda on May 24, four days ahead of the stipulated deadline to promulgate the new constitution, realising that it would not be drafted by May 28.

CPN-UML leader Pradip Gyawali, however, said he had no information about any such agreement with specific date to hand over power to the Maoists.

The seven point "secret" deal includes provisions that the government will be led by rotation by the communists and the Maoists, both Khanal and Prachand heading the army integration mechanism and setting up of separate unit for the Maoist combatants within the army as part of the process for the integration of the former guerrillas.
Under the deal, the Maoists and the CPN-UML have also agreed to share key cabinet posts, including Home, Defence and Finance.

The Maoists are sticking to the deal and have even warned to withdraw support to the government if the "secret" pact is not implemented, according to sources close to CPN-UML.However, Khanal is hesitant to implement the deal amid a backlash in the party over the agreement.

CPN-UML standing committee is holding a crucial meeting today to discuss key matters, including the "secret" deal with the Maoists.

Nepali Congress has already condemned the deal, saying that it has breached the peace agreement and the interim constitution.The Central Working Committee meeting of the Nepali Congress yesterday flayed the seven-point "secret agreement" linked to the peace process and the monitoring of the arms and the army of the former Maoist combatants.

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