Nepal's new prime minister was sworn in Sunday but was unable to name a Cabinet because of continuing negotiations with his main coalition partner over key positions. Jhalnath Khanal was sworn in by President Ram Baran Yadav at a ceremony in Katmandu. He was chosen by parliament on Thursday, seven months and 17 attempts after the last government resigned amid pressure from the Maoists, a former rebel group which joined mainstream politics and is now the largest party in parliament.
Khanal's party, the third largest in parliament, received the support of the Maoists and now faces the challenge of restoring the peace process that ended the Maoist insurgency.
Bishop Anthony Sharma S.J., is Apostolic Vicar in Nepal. He told Vatican Radio that the main obstacle to the formation of a government is the allocation for key positions in cabinet. He also says the government will have to decide the fate of thousands of former Maoist fighters who are still in camps and oversee the writing of a new constitution.
The Constituent Assembly was charged with creating “a political system that fully complies with universally accepted fundamental human rights”. However, Religious leaders have voiced concern that the current constitutional proposals would restrict the right to freedom of religion and include a proposal to ban any person from converting another.
Despite these challenges Bishop Sharma says the Nepalese can now begin to look to the future with some hope for change. Listen to our report: