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US hails election of Nepal's first female president

29 october 2015, 14:26

The White House on Wednesday hailed the election in Nepal of a new prime minister and the Himalayan country's first female president, after the adoption of a landmark constitution last month, AFP reports.

Nepal's parliament earlier this month chose KP Sharma Oli as prime minister and then on Wednesday elected Bidhya Bhandari as ceremonial head of state.

Their elections are "milestones in Nepal's democratic development that demonstrate the people of Nepal’s commitment to democracy," National Security Council spokesman Ned Price said in a statement.

Bhandari, a rare female face in Nepal's parliament, served as defense minister from 2009 to 2011. 

She is the vice-chair of the ruling Communist Party of Nepal (Unified Marxist Leninist), and replaces Ram Baran Yadav, who was elected in 2008 following the abolition of a 240-year-old Hindu monarchy.

The constitution, the first drawn up by elected representatives, was meant to bolster peace and ease Nepal's transformation to a democratic republic after decades of political instability and a 10-year Maoist insurgency. 

But it has instead sparked deadly violence. 

More than 40 people have been killed in clashes between police and ethnic minority protesters, who say a new federal structure laid out in the charter will leave them under-represented in parliament.

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