Dahal sworn in as PM; Home for UML, MPRF gets Foreign Ministry; Hu Jintao assures more assistance, investment to Nepal; Maoist leaders: People’s Republic is still our target; US provides $50,000 relief aid for flood victims
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  • Pushpa Kamal Dahal was sworn in as Prime Minister of Nepal on August 18. President Ram Baran Yadav administered the oath of office and secrecy, which Dahal took "in the name the people", and not "in the name of name of God" as phrased in the original oath paper. Vice President Parmananda Jha, CA chairman Subas Nemwang, leaders of different political parties and heads of foreign diplomatic missions were present on the occasion1.

    The three major political parties – the Maoists, UML and Madhesi People's Rights Forum (MPRF), reached consensus on the sharing of ministerial portfolios. While the Maoists got nine ministerial portfolios, including Defense, Finance, Peace and Reconstruction, six ministerial portfolios including Home, Local Development and Water Resources went to the UML and the MPRF got four ministries (Foreign, Physical Planning, Agriculture and Supply). The parties however failed to reach a consensus on the post of Deputy Prime Minister as both the UML and the MPRF have staked their claims for the post2.

    Prime Minister Dahal met with Chinese President Hu Jintao in Beijing on August 24. Hu assured him of more development assistance and investments and urged the Nepalese PM to take the peace process and development agenda together. Dahal also met with the Chinese premier Wen Jiabao who stressed that Beijing was in favour of political stability and economic development in Nepal3. Dahal on his part called for Chinese support and cooperation as the Nepali government and people were “striving for national stability and economic development4.”

    CPN-Maoist’s alliance partners raised strong objections over the decision of the Maoists to use its People's Liberation Army (PLA) cadres for the security of the Prime Minister. Nepali Congress (NC) leader Ram Sharan Mahat also deplored the Maoists decision5.

    Despite heading the coalition government, reports noted that the Maoists had not given up on their goal of setting up a People’s Republic in Nepal. C. P. Gajurel aka Gaurav assured party cadres that the Maoists would continue their struggle against the government, the parliament and would not hesitate to take to streets6. Another Maoist leader Netra Bikram Chand aka Biplav also echoed the same sentiments7.

    Over 30,000 people were displaced due to floods in the Saptakoshi River in Sunsari district of Nepal. Crops worth tens of millions of rupees were also destroyed8. Interestingly, President Ram Baran Yadav stated that the Koshi disaster was the result of the unequal treaty signed with India in the past9. The US announced $50,000 for emergency relief supplies to the victims of flood in Sunsari district, with the promise of additional aid if required10. The European Commission also announced euros 1 million (Rs. 103 million) as humanitarian aid for flood victims.

    In other developments, the UN opened its Regional Centre for Peace and Disarmament in Asia and the Pacific (RCPD) in Kathmandu. RCPD, under the UN Office for Disarmament Affairs (UNODA), would serve 43 countries in the Asia-Pacific region and would rely on voluntary contributions from donors to run its operations and activities. The RCPD relocated to Nepal after the UN and the government signed an agreement on July 20, 200711.