Nepali Congress leader Koirala was administered the oath of office and secrecy by President Ram Baran Yadav in the presence of top leaders of major political parties, heads of security agencies, members of Kathmandu-based diplomatic corps and senior government officials.

Chairman of Nepal's interim election government Khil Raj Regmi tendered his resignation from the post of Chief Justice of the Supreme Court and handed over power to Koirala.

Only a two-member Cabinet was formed on Tuesday following Koirala's oath-taking and it is likely that the Cabinet will be expanded later only after the row over portfolio allocation is settled. The ticklish issue of allocation of portfolios, particularly the home ministry, soured the relations between the two largest parties - the Nepali Congress and the CPN-UML - within 24 hours of Koirala's election to the post of Prime Minister.

Though CPN-UML leaders did attend the swearing-in ceremony at the President's Office, no one from the party joined the Cabinet as the two coalition partners failed to agree on distribution of ministerial berths. During a package deal between them, the NC and CPN-UML had earlier agreed to share 13 ministries each.

Only a senior leader of the NC, Ram Sharan Mahat, took oath with Koirala. After the NC refused to allocate the home ministry to the CPN-UML, a meeting of its standing committee on Tuesday decided not to have any of its members sworn in as ministers.

"The NC has refused to let us lead the Home Ministry, so we have decided not to join the Cabinet now," said Bam Dev Gautam, CPN-UML vice-chair.

"Until the NC implements the decision to let the CPN-UML lead the home ministry, we will not join the government," he added.

Koirala was on Monday elected the Prime Minister in a parliamentary vote after the CPN-UML decided to support him during the voting.

In all, 405 lawmakers voted in favour of Koirala while 148 votes were cast against him in the 575-member house. Twenty-six more members are to be nominated by the government to reach the constituent assembly's full strength of 601.


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