Hopes rise for stability as Nepal's new coalition govt sworn in

KATHMANDU (AFP) - Nepal's new coalition government was sworn in late Tuesday after weeks of squabbling over power sharing, potentially paving the way to stability for the Himalayan nation.

Ministers from the Nepali Congress and the Unified Marxist-Leninist (UML) party, which swept the polls last November, took the oath before President Ram Baran Yadav during a ceremony at his residence.

"The swearing-in ceremony has been completed. The government will include ministers from both, Nepali Congress and UML," Mr Rajendra Yadav, press adviser to the president, told AFP.

Lawmakers have pledged to draft within a year a new constitution, which will be a key step in a stalled peace process begun after the end of a ten-year civil war in 2006.

The new government, led by Nepali Congress veteran Sushil Koirala, is tasked with re-energising the economy after growth fell from 6.1 per cent in 2008 to 4.6 per cent last year.

The Nepali Congress, which won the most seats in last year's election, earlier this month secured the support of the UML, which came a close second.

Since Nepal's first post-war elections for a constituent assembly in 2008, five prime ministers have served brief terms, the country has had no leader for long periods and the assembly has been perpetually deadlocked.

The former rebel Maoists, who laid down their arms in 2006, dominated the first assembly, which also served as a parliament before its collapse in May 2012 after failing to agree on a constitution.

But the Maoists came third in the latest polls with just 80 seats.

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