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Nepal's king reshuffles his cabinet

IRNA - Islamic Republic News Agency

New Delhi, Dec 8, IRNA
Nepal's King Gyanendra, four days after returning home from a foreign tour, announced a major reshuffle of his cabinet to counter the latest challenge of a united front by political parties and Maoists.

Several ministers, including one who had incurred the wrath of the crown prince, were axed.

The new cabinet now has 35 members, up by seven from the earlier 24. In addition to 14 ministers, there are seven ministers of state and 14 assistant ministers.

More royalists and former ministers who had been hailing his power seizure in February and trying to drum up support for the civic elections to be held on February 8,2006 have been rewarded with a berth, while those who fell from his grace were punished.

The hardest punishment was given to Home Minister Dan Bahadur Shahi, who was booted out of the cabinet.

Shahi's fall came after Crown Prime Paras' motorcade was pelted with stones by angry protesters resulting in the heir to the throne of Nepal reportedly storming into police headquarters the following day asking for an explanation and suspending the chief of Kathmandu police.

Finance Minister Madhukar Shumsher Jung bahadur Rana, who was scheduled to head the Nepali delegation to the WTO ministerial conference in Hong Kong on December 13-19, was also ousted. His portfolio will be handed to Minister of State for Finance Dr Roop Jyoti.

Only Foreign Minister Ramesh Nath Pandey, Education and Sports Minister Radha Krishna Mainali, Science and Environment Minister Prakash Koirala, Forest Minister Salim Ansari and Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Niranjan Thapa are retained in their portfolios.

The king has also retained his two deputies -- Dr Tulsi Giri and Kirti Nidhi Bista. This is the government's third cabinet reshuffle, the last having taken place in July.


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