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Nepal's new PM begins forming government

media Jhalanath Khanal wearing a garland leaves the parliament after being elected … Reuters/Navesh Chitrakar

Nepal's new prime minister, Jhalanath Khanal, began forming a coalition government on Friday. He is expected to be sworn in on Sunday after securing the backing of the powerful  Maoist party in a vote on Thursday.

Nepal has not had a government since June, despite 16 previous rounds of voting. Maoist chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal said he decided to back Khanal to end the political deadlock.

Khanal has said his cabinet will be inclusive and he is expected to give several posts to the Maoists.

C.K. Lall, Kathmandu 04/02/2011 - by Salil Sarkar Listen

Dahal's deputy, Baburam Bhattarai, has opposed the decision to back Khanal and several leaders in Khanal's Unified Marxist-Leninist party have criticised a deal with the Maoists.

"The Maoists' calculation is that he will be more cooperative to a Maoist agenda than any other contender," says correspondent CK Lall in Kathmandu. "Instead of going round and round in a fruitless contest at the last moment they backed out and supported Khanal."

The country's civil war ended in 2006, when Maoist rebels laid down their weapons, but thousands of former Maoist soldiers are still living in camps.

A new constitution should have been completed by May last year, but it has been delayed by disagreement between parties.

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