Jhalanath Khanal Sworn in as Nepal's New PM
Ira Mellman February 06, 2011
Nepal's newly elected Prime Minister Jhalanath Khanal was sworn in Sunday at a ceremony in Kathmandu, ending a seven-month political stalemate that has delayed the drafting of a new constitution.
President Ram Baran Yadav administered the oath of office to Mr. Khanal in a ceremony at the official presidential residence attended by a number of dignitaries.
The 61-year-old Khanal was selected by Nepal's parliament last Thursday on their 17th attempt to find a new leader since former Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal stepped down in June of 2010. The last minute withdrawal of the Maoist party candidate from the race opened the way for the decision.
Nepal's political parties have been deeply divided ever since Maoist guerillas ended a decade-long civil war. The chief differences focus on the shape of a new constitution and the future of some 19,000 former Maoist fighters now living in camps.
Khanal belongs to the UML, the United Marxist-Leninist Party, allied to the Maoists.
Contrary to speculation that the new Prime Minister would be sworn in with eight of his new ministers, no one else from Khanal's party took the oath. Reports say the Maoists, who make up Nepal's largest political party, are unhappy with Khanal due to his attempt to give the powerful Home Minister office to a member of his own party.
In addition, Yuvraj Ghimiri, a political analyst in Katmandu told VOA's Angina Pasricha the new prime minister faces many challenges, including better governance
"After all, it is a hung parliament and there is just four months left for the new constitution to be delivered to the country. In addition, the country's economic situation, law and order situation, and general sense of security is very, very bad," he said.
That sense of security will most likely be exacerbated by a daily 14 hour power outage recently announced by Nepal's power authorities.
The election of the new Prime Minister drew the praise of United Nations secretary General Ban Ki-Moon who reaffirmed the support of the UN to all efforts to complete the peace process in Nepal and adopt a new constitution.
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