President Dr. Ram Baran Yadav administered the oath of office and secrecy to newly elected Prime Minister Dr. Baburam Bhattarai on Monday afternoon at Shital Niwas, the presidential house in the capital. Dr. Bhattarai took the oath in the name of the “country and people”, and committed himself to working in accordance with the interim Constitution.

In the ceremony, Dr. Bhattarai swore in Deputy Prime Minister and Home Minister, Bijay Kumar Gachhedar. The latter heads the Madhesi Janaadhikar Forum (Democratic), the biggest constituent of the United Democratic Madhesi Front (UDMF). The front's support made the Maoist win possible in the prime ministerial polls on Sunday. Mr. Gacheddar told reporters the rest of the Cabinet would be formed within the “next two to three days”.

Kathmandu's diplomatic corps, including new Indian ambassador Jayant Prasad, heads of government institutions, political parties, senior bureaucrats and civil society leaders were present at the function to congratulate the new Prime Minister.

In its first meeting, the two-member Cabinet also decided to table a proposal to amend the Constitution to extend the term of the Constituent Assembly by three months. The term ends on August 31. While the Maoist party's standing committee had recommended a six-month extension, the opposition Nepali Congress had asked for a three-month extension. There was a possibility of a House session endorsing the government proposal late on Monday, enabling an extension of the CA till November 30.

On Saturday night, Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh called up to congratulate Dr. Bhattarai. Sources told The Hindu that Dr. Singh expressed the best wishes and support of India, and urged Dr. Bhattarai to “build political consensus and take the peace and constitutional process forward”. In a separate letter to Dr. Bhattarai, Dr. Singh wrote: “India remains committed to providing all assistance in building a more stable, democratic and prosperous Nepal, which will add to the security and prosperity of the region.” The Indian Prime Minister also extended “a most cordial invitation” to Dr. Bhattarai to visit India at his convenience.

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