Bidya Bhandari is first female president
CPN-UML leader Bidya Devi Bhandari has been elected as the first female president of the country from the parliament on Wednesday.
She secured a clear majority of 327 votes out of 541 valid votes in the 597-member parliament. Eight votes were found to be invalid during the counting. Her only contender Kul Bahadur Gurung of Nepali Congress (NC) bagged 214 votes in a secret balloting held at the parliament building.
Bhandari’s victory was almost certain as her candidacy was supported by more than a dozen political parties in the ruling alliance. Ruling CPN-UML, UCPN (Maoist), Rastriya Prajatantra Party Nepal (RPP-N), Madhesi People’s Right Forum-Democratic (MPRF-D), CPN-ML and Rastriya Janamorcha among other various ruling parties had issued whip to their lawmakers to vote for Bhandari.
Altogether 549 lawmakers cast their vote in the election which was scheduled from 11 am to 2 pm on Wednesday. Two lawmakers from NC and three from UCPN (Maoist) were absent in the election.
In the 601-member parliament, four posts are vacant now. Various lawmakers from Madhes-based political parties boycotted the vote. Madhavi Rani Sah of Shadbhavana Party was the only parliamentarian of the agitating United Democratic Madheshi Front to participate in the vote.
Shila Khadka and Madhu Shahi of NC and Bhakti Pandey, Janardan Sharma and Surendra Jaisawal of UCPN (Maoist) were among the lawmakers remaining absent during the voting process.
The vote was held after the political parties failed to pick a consensus presidential candidate.
Emerging from parliament building after her election, Bhandari hailed her victory as the victory of all Nepalis. “The process of implementation of the new constitution has started. We all should exercise our responsibility to defend and protect national and territorial integrity and bring about prosperity for the country,” said Bhandari.
President-elect Bhandari is scheduled to take oath of her office at 1 pm on Thursday. The chief justice will administer the swearing-in of the president as per the new constitution.
The tenure of the newly-elected president is not fixed. However she will be replaced by a new president chosen by the electoral college after new elections are held as per Article 63 of the new constitution.