Bhandari first woman president of Nepal

Kathmandu, October 28

Vice-chair of CPN-UML Bidhya Devi Bhandari was today elected the new president of the country.

Bhandari received 327 votes in the presidential election against her rival candidate of the Nepali Congress Kul Bahadur Gurung’s 214 votes.

Bhandari is the second president of the country but the first woman president of Nepal.

Out of 597 votes including that of the Speaker in the 601-member Parliament, 549 members cast their votes today.

Eight votes were declared invalid said Speaker Onsari Gharti. Declaring Bhandari the winner of the presidential race, Gharti offered Bhandari her best wishes and a successful term.

After winning the election, Bhandari told mediapersons that the new constitution would work for Nepal’s sovereignty and independence during her tenure. She added that the charter promulgated from the Constituent Assembly last month would protect sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of the nation.

She said her election was a step ahead in the process of implementing the constitution in accordance with its spirit.

The newly elected president will take oath of office and secrecy tomorrow afternoon from the Chief Justice.

Bhandari had shot to political fame when she defeated late NC legendary leader Krishna Prasad Bhattarai in a by- election held on February 7, 1994 after the death of her husband Madan Kumar Bhandari, then CPN-UML general secretary.

Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli told mediapersons that Bhandari’s election stood as evidence that women would now play an important role in governance and policy formulation.

Unified CPN-Maoist Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal, whose party supported Bhandari along with other ruling coalition partners, said Bhandari’s election marked a historic moment. He said she was an able candidate for post of President and her election indicated that the constitution would respect the rights of all communities.

Dahal said as the new constitution was being implemented, there were some issues that needed to be addressed, including issues raised by the Madhesi community. “Madhesis are our own brothers and sisters and we will make efforts to address their grievances,” Dahal added.

He also thanked people for maintaining patience in the face of shortage of fuel and other commodities.

Dahal said he had tried his best to bring the NC on board the politics of consensus, but failed. He said he would continue his effort to reach out to the NC and win its confidence to resolve the problems facing the country.

Nepali Congress President Sushil Koirala termed the presidential election a democratic process and said he was hopeful the new president would make efforts to bring all forces together.

Protesting Madhesi and Tharu forces, along with lawmakers of some fringe parties, boycotted the presidential election, but Sadbhawana Party lawmaker Madhavi Rani Sah, took part in the voting. Sah could not be contacted for comments.

SP Co-chair Laxman Lal Karna said Sah had violated party discipline and would be penalised. “Our party will take disciplinary action against her for violating party discipline,” he added. United Democratic Madhesi Front, of which the SP is a constituent, had decided to boycott today’s election.