Nepal’s legislature/parliament today elected Bidya Devi Bhandari as President receiving 327 out of 549 votes. Her closest contestant Kul Bahadur Gurung of the Nepali Congress received 214 votes and 48 lawmakers were absent during the vote.
The vote took place after the assembly failed to meet the deadline to propose a consensus candidate in accordance with the newly promulgated constitution.
Bhandari is not only the first woman to be elected president in Nepal but also the first president to be elected under the new constitution, which was passed by the Constituent Assembly in September. She is the second head of state elected in Nepal.
The election of Bhandari was expected as 12 ruling parties including the third and fourth largest parties – United Communist Party of Nepal and Rastriya Prajatantra Party of Nepal -- had pledged their support.
“It is encouraging to have a woman as the second elected head of state of Nepal' s young republic,” said Leena Rikkila Tamang, Regional Director for the Asia and the Pacific Programme at International IDEA.
“I hope she can serve as a role model for all Nepali girls and women, showing that the highest position of the country is within women's reach too.”
But, she added, there are still many obstacles for women in Nepal.
“Without forgetting that the new constitution failed to respond to women’s demands for equality in citizenship and unambiguously commit to proportionate representation of women at all levels of governance."