KATHMANDU: CPN-UML vice-chair Bidhya Devi Bhandari was elected the first female president Nepal after defeating Nepali Congress leader Kul Bahadur Gurung in the presidential election on Wednesday.
Bhandari’s victory has come 12 days after Onsari Gharti of UCPN (Maoist) became country’s first female speaker. Out of 597 lawmakers, 549 votes were cast during the election held among the parliamentarians, 48 parliamentarians of Madhes-based parties were absent, while eight votes were invalid.
The voting began at 11am and lasted until 2pm and Gharti announced the result at 5:15pm. The agitating Madhes-based parties, who had participated in the prime minister’s election, did not turn out on Wednesday.
Bhandari, wife of UML’s late charismatic leader Madan Bhandari, garnered 327 votes to Gurung’s 214. “Bidhya Devi Bhandari has been elected to the post of Nepal’s president,” announced Gharti to loud cheers from parliamentarians.
The 54-year-old replaces incumbent President Ram Baran Yadav, who was elected the country’s first president in 2008 after the abolition of monarchy. She will take oath of office and secrecy on Thursday.
With Bhandari’s triumph, the UML has now secured both the key posts after party chairman KP Sharma Oli won the prime ministerial race against Nepali Congress president Sushil Koirala earlier this month.
The UCPN (Maoist), Rastriya Prajtantra Party-Nepal (RPP-N), Madhesi Janadhikar Forum-Loktantrik (MJF-L) and some fringe parties supported Bhandari in the election as part of a larger power-sharing deal with the CPN-UML.
As per the deal, the UCPN (Maoist) leader Gharti was elected as speaker of House and RPP-N’s Ganga Prasad Yadav landed the post of deputy speaker last week.
The coalition partners are now throwing their weight behind Nanda Kishor Pun, a Maoist leader, for the post of vice president.
After her election as the head of state, Bhandari said she would play a leading role as per the constitutional provisions for the effective implementation of the new constitution.
Speaking briefly to reporters, Bhandari pledged to facilitate in bringing the agitating parties on board. “I have been elected as the first female president as per the inclusive and proportional principles and we implemented the constitution,” she said.
In his reaction to the poll result, PM Oli said Bhandari is a capable and appropriate person to be the head of state. UCPN (Maoist) chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal said the election of president marks the effective beginning of the implementation of the new charter.
“There were doubts about the implementation of new constitution,” Dahal said. “But the completion of elections for vital posts shows that the implementation of the constitution is moving ahead. And it has established inclusive proportional values.”
Congratulating Bhandari on becoming the country’s first female President, Koirala said: “New president has been elected through a democratic process. I hope she will bring all parties together for the implementation of the new constitution.” – From Kathmandu Post