KATHMANDU (Reuters) - Nepal’s new prime minister, Sher Bahadur Deuba, named his first cabinet appointments on Wednesday and put a former Maoist guerrilla in charge of holding the final round of local elections, the first such elections in two decades.
The 70-year-old Deuba replaced Prachanda, a former rebel commander, as prime minister after a parliamentary vote on Tuesday.
He has pledged to complete the remaining phase of village and municipal assembly elections set for June 28, leading to provincial and national elections before the end of the year.
The first phase of local polls was held on May 14.
“These are early appointments and the prime minister will expand the cabinet in consultation with coalition partners,” said Deuba’s aide and nephew, Bhanu Deuba.
The main appointment was Home Minister Janardan Sharma, a former guerrilla fighter, who will be in charge of overseeing all three elections the government hopes will complete a difficult transition since the monarchy was abolished in 2008.
The president’s office said three members of the ethnic Madhesi minority were among the seven appointments.
Those appointments are seen as a bid to appease the Madhesis, who live on the southern plains bordering India and say a new constitution that creates new provinces will unfairly consolidate the power of the country’s hill elite over them.
Among others appointed to the cabinet was Krishna Bahadur Mahara, also a Maoist, who will be a deputy prime minister in charge of the foreign ministry, the president’s office said in a statement.
Gyanendra Bahadur Karki from the ruling Nepali Congress will be finance minister.
Reporting by Gopal Sharma; Editing by Sanjeev Miglani, Robert Birsel