Nepal gets its first woman president

Bidhya Devi Bhandari, deputy leader of the ruling Communist Party of Nepal Unified Marxist-Leninist (CPN-UML) led by Prime Minister Khadga Prasad Oli, was on Wednesday elected Nepal's first woman President after she defeated her rival from Nepali Congress by more than 100 votes.

Bhandari, 54, the vice president of CPN-UML and widow of late general secretary of the party Madan Bhandari, secured 327 votes against 214 votes of her rival veteran Nepali Congress leader Kul Bahadur Gurung.

The new President will succeed incumbent Ram Baran Yadav who was elected as the first President of Nepal in 2008 after the country was declared a Republic.

As per the new constitution promulgated on 2-0 September, it was required to elect a new President within a month of the commencement of Parliament session.

Bhandari is an active campaigner for women's rights in Nepal and was among the politicians who campaigned for ensuring women's rights in the new Constitution. The document says one-third of the members in parliament have to be women and either the President or vice president must be a woman.

The new President has been a leading political figure since her husband Madan Bhandari, who was then leader of the party, was killed in a still unsolved car accident in 1993.

She also led many demonstrations against the then King Gyanendra in 2006 that finally ended his authoritarian rule and restored democracy.

Bhandari is Nepal's second President since the Himalayan nation was turned into a republic after abolishing the centuries-old monarchy. The first President, Ram Baran Yadav, was elected in 2008.