Newly elected Prime Minister of Nepal Sushil Koirala assumed office on Monday with his major backer refusing to join the government over disagreement over key Cabinet berths.

Mr. Koirala was administered the oath of office and secrecy by President Ram Baran Yadav amid boycott by CPN-UML which had, on Sunday, agreed to join the government led by the Nepali Congress president. The UML, which has emerged as a close second to the NC after the November election, accused the NC of treating it as a subordinate and not an equal partner.

Prime Minister Koirala, elected with a big majority in Parliament on Monday, later administered the oath of office to his party colleague and former finance and foreign minister, Ram Sharan Mahat. Mr. Mahat is a minister without portfolio.

“My government’s priorities are peace, democracy and development,” the Prime Minister told mediapersons at his office at Singha Durbar. Mr. Mahat told The Hindu that his party would try to persuade the UML to join the government.

“We will try and persuade them to join the government and we hope they do,” he said. Mr. Mahat, who represented NC in its talks with the UML, declined to talk about the dispute over Cabinet berths.

Meanwhile, the Prime Minister directed the Tribhuwan University (TU) authorities to appoint a Dean to the Institute of Medicine at the TU Teaching Hospital within 24 hours. Doctors at the hospital on Tuesday stopped all services except emergency against the TU Executive Council decision’s to appoint a controversial figure as TUTH acting head and the delay in appointing a Dean of the IoM.

Regmi steps down as Chief Justice

Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Nepal who was heading a caretaker government that was formed to conduct the Constituent Assembly election resigned his judiciary post on Tuesday.

In a televised address to the nation, Chief Justice Khil Raj Regmi expressed happiness over the successful completion of the task the technocrat government has been entrusted with – holding the election last year.

The turnout in the November 19 election, despite calls of boycott and violence by a radical communist party, was more than 75 per cent.