Nepal's new Maoist Prime Minister Prachanda named a minority leader to the key position of home minister in his first appointments on Thursday, seeking reconciliation after months of protests by southern plainsfolk over a new constitution.
Prachanda,whose real name is Pushpa Kamal Dahal, still uses his wartime pseudonym, which means "fierce". He has promised to keep his cabinet small, after predecessor K P Oli was criticised for appointing a 32-member coalition with six deputy prime ministers.
After the oath-taking ceremony in capital Kathmandu, Prachanda administered the oath of office to five ministers, including three from his political party and two from the Nepali Congress.
The sixty-one-year-old former rebel commander has vowed to tackle the grievances of the Madhesi minority that demands a greater say in central government by amending the constitution adopted last September.
The Madhesis, who have close cultural and family ties with neighbouring India, have staged protests against the charter, saying it marginalised them by dividing their southern homeland into several states.
Violence, blamed by many Madhesis on the use of excessive police force, claimed more than 50 lives in protests that petered out in February.
Prachanda appointed Bimalendra Nidhi of the centrist Nepali Congress, the biggest coalition party, as deputy prime minister in charge of the home ministry, officials said.
Among those appointed to the cabinet was Krishna Bahadur Mahara from Prachanda's Maoist party, who will also be a deputy prime minister in charge of the finance ministry.