|06KATHMANDU1495||2006-06-12 10:00:00||CONFIDENTIAL||Embassy Kathmandu|
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1. (SBU) Prime Minister GP Koirala named three additional
ministers to his Cabinet June 11, including Amik Sherchan,
head of the extreme left People's Front Nepal (PFN), as
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Health and Population.
Koirala also appointed Hridayesh Tripathi, General Secretary
of Nepal Sadbhavana Party - Ananda Devi (NSP-A), as Minister
for Industry, Commerce and Supplies. Gyanendra Bahadur
Karki, who is on the Central Working Committee of the Nepali
Congress-Democratic party (NC-D) but not a Member of
Parliament, will become State Minister for Water Resources in
place of NC-D Deputy Speaker of Parliament Chitra Lekha
Yadav, who had turned down the post. The expansion brings
PFN and NSP-A, both members of the seven-party alliance, into
the government. The only remaining member of the seven-party
alliance not represented in the Council of Ministers is Nepal
Workers and Peasants Party (a party based in Bhaktapur in
Kathmandu Valley that holds one seat in Parliament.
For Unity, and To Placate the Maoists?
2. (C) Sherchan had long been demanding a Deputy PM
appointment as a reward for his party's role in bringing the
Maoists to the negotiating table. Kashinath Adhikari,
Central Committee Member of CPN-UML, expressed to us his
disappointment over Sherchan's appointment as a second Deputy
PM. Adhikari worried that it would not send a positive
message to the people who would view the seven-party alliance
as jostling for power and posts. Subodh Pyukarel head of
local human rights NGO INSEC, criticized PM Koirala for
making such an appointment when PFN had split and Sherchan's
faction only had three MPs, including Sherchan.
Sherchan Regarded as a Difficult Personality
3. (C) The Embassy has not had much contact with Sherchan.
Others view him as being short-tempered, illogical and
difficult. Sherchan has sometimes been critical of the
seven-party alliance's government. His English is very weak.
Lilimani Pokharel, PFN's vice-president, recommended using
an interpreter in discussions with Sherchan, who spoke only
broken English. Sherchan, who is in his mid-60's has the
equivalent of an American high school degree. He has been
active in politics since his school days. He was born in
Myagdi District and his family migrated to Chitwan District.
He is married and has three sons and one daughter.
4. (C) The seven-party alliance is trying to establish a
functioning government even while Maoists and others are
demanding that the government's only role is to work for
peace and to prepare for a constituent assembly. The
alliance is in a delicate position. The parties recognize
the importance of strengthening their position to negotiate
with the Maoists, alliance participants also want credit -
and power -- even while most of the public still suspects the
political parties are venal and power-hungry. It is unclear
whether Sherchan's appointment as a second Deputy PM will
improve the government's position vis-a-vis the Maoists or
whether it reflects political jockeying for power. That
said, the seven-party alliance continues for now.