October 28, 2015 – Kathmandu
Nepal elected its first female president, Bidya Devi Bhandari, 54, as the head of the nation today. The CPN (UML) vice-chairman received 327 votes against Nepali Congress’ presidential candidate Kul Bahadur Gurung, who received 217 total votes. 549 lawmakers cast votes during the election in Kathmandu.
The election, held in the Constituent Assembly Hall, New Baneshwor, started from 11 am today and the result was announced at 5:15 pm. She received votes from the lawmakers from the CPN (UML)’s unionized parties—Communist Party of Nepal-Maoist, Madhesi Janadhikar Forum-Democratic, and Rashtriya Janatantrik Party-Nepal.
At 5:15 pm, the speaker announced the result, “Bidya Devi Bhandari has been elected for the post of Nepal’s president.” Other smaller political parties also backed Ms. Bidya in the election, as a part of a power-sharing deal with CPN (UML). The Congress candidate received votes only from the Congress lawmakers.
Ms. Bhandari wins against Congress
With president Bidya’s victory, CPN (UML) has secured the two main key positions as the heads of state, including KP Sharma Oli, the first prime minister after Nepal promulgated its new constitution on September 20. However, her position is largely ceremonial. KP Sharma Oli had also won the prime ministerial election against a Congress candidate, former prime minister Sushil Koirala.
Both Bhandari and Oli replaced, and defeated their corresponding Congress candidates in the tenure and the election.
Bhandari to move into the Presidential Residence on Friday
Ms. Bhandari is to take the oath of position and secrecy on Thursday. She will move into Shital Niwas, Nepal’s official presidential residence on Friday. She replaces the first president of the Democratic Republic of Nepal, Dr. Ram Baran Yadav. Yadav was elected as the president in 2008 after Nepal abolished the monarchy.
Bhandari’s win comes just days after Nepal elected its first female speaker, Onsari Gharti last week.
Defense Minister to President
Bhandari had earlier been appointed as the first female defense minister of Nepal in 2009. The same year, she was elected as her party’s vice-chair. Widow to the iconic UML leader Madan Bhandari, she is believed to be a close ally of the current prime minister.
Born Bidya Pandey in a middle-class family in Bhojpur in 1961, Ms. Bhandari had fought against the Panchayat System with affiliation to UML. She also submitted the proposal for 33 percent seats for women which was later implemented by the parliament in 2006.
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