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Maoists join interim Nepal govt
Bishnu Budhathoki writes from Kathmandu

Nepal's once-feared Maoist rebels on Sunday joined the interim government, expressing commitment to establishing lasting peace, democracy and stability in the country by ending their decade-long people's war that killed over 14,000 people.

Before leaving for New Delhi to attend the 14th SAARC summit in the afternoon, Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala formed a 22-member cabinet of the interim government, including five Maoist leaders.

He also administered the oath of office and secrecy to 16 ministers and five state ministers during a brief function.

Poll on June 20

An all-party meeting of the SPA and the Maoists held at the Prime Minister's residence this morning decided to hold elections on June 20. Senior leaders reached an understanding in this regard as there was no possibility of holding the elections within the prior deadline of mid-June due to legal and political problems.

In the newly formed cabinet, Maoist spokesperson Krishna Bahadur Mahara is leading his team, holding the post of minister of information and communication.

Interestingly, Maoists, who were actively involved in destroying communication towers across the country in the past, have now got the responsibility of running ministries of information, physical planning and works and local development.

Earlier, as per an understanding reached between top leaders of the seven-party alliance (SPA) and the Maoists, the meeting of the interim legislature-Parliament today unanimously reappointed the octogenarian Nepali Congress president Koirala as the Prime Minister of the interim government. After his reappointment, Koirala took the oath of office and secrecy before Parliament as per the newly promulgated interim constitution.

Delivering a brief speech in Parliament, Koirala requested all political parties and people to cooperate for lasting peace and stability by holding the constituent assembly elections within the stipulated time frame.

Meanwhile, talking to journalists after the oath ceremony, Maoist chairman Prachanda said the priority of his party would be to ensure the constituent assembly elections in a free and fair manner and to provide immediate relief to people.

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