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在线翻译:
szdaily -> Person of the week
Communist campaigner is Nepal’s first female president
     2015-October-30  08:53    Shenzhen Daily

    NEPAL made history Wednesday by electing the country’s first female head of state.

    Bidhya Devi Bhandari, from the Communist Party of Nepal-United Marxist Leninist (CPN-UML), received 327 votes of the total 541 ballots cast in Nepal’s parliament.

    Bhandari, replacing President Ram Baran Yadav, who was elected in 2008, defeated Nepali Congress candidate Kul Bahadur Gurung in the presidential poll to elect the second president of the Himalayan nation.

    A former defense minister, Bhandari is a cancer survivor and the widow of late Communist leader Madan Bhandari, who died in 1993 in a yet unexplained road accident.

    Nepal’s presidency — introduced after the country abolished its centuries-old monarchy in 2008 — is seen mostly as a ceremonial post. But Bhandari and her party, which lead the new government, have the major responsibility of lifting Nepal out of a political crisis as it struggles to recover from a giant earthquake earlier this year.

    Born June 19, 1961, in Manebhanjyang of Bhojpur, to Ram Bahadur Pandey and Mithila Pandey, Bhandari joined student politics at an early age. According to details provided by the CPN-UML, Bhandari joined politics as an activist for the Youth League of CPN in 1978.

    Very good at giving speeches, Bhandari played the role of in-charge for the Eastern Zone Committee of ANNFSU from 1979 to 1987. Her active political journey, however, started when she received party membership from the then CPN-UML in 1980. She got married in 1983 and gave birth to two daughters.

    A Communist campaigner whose fight for democracy brought about the end of a 240-year Hindu monarchy in Nepal, Bhandari is largely credited with ensuring that a third of politicians in Nepal are now women.

    Nepal has been trying to shift from a male-dominated society, where women are mostly limited to working at home or on farms, to one in which women have equal opportunities and legal rights. As a close ally and party colleague of the prime minister, Khadga Prasad Oli, Bhandari had been considered the favorite for the largely ceremonial job.

    Bhandari said her election marked the first step toward assuring the new constitutional “guarantees of equality” are fulfilled. Last week, Onsari Gharti Magar was elected as the parliament’s first female speaker.

    Although 54-year-old Bhandari was involved in politics at a young age, she said being a wife was her primary role after she was married. But her husband, who is to this day considered one of the most charismatic politicians the country has had, was killed in a mysterious car accident in 1993, suddenly forcing her to the forefront of mainstream Nepali politics.

    A year later, she won a mid-term election, defeating the former prime minister from the rival Nepali Congress party. Bhandari has since held several positions as a minister, most recently in 2009 as the country’s defense minister, while also rising to the rank of vice chair within her own party.

    Bhandari held the defense ministry at a time when the country was marred by political deadlock, as Maoists leaders demanded that their former rebel fighters be integrated into the national army. Bhandari was defiant in her support for the army, which at the time was vehemently against inducting Maoist fighters into the institution.

    She led demonstrations against the former King Gyanendra in 2006, ending his authoritarian rule and restoring democracy.

    “My entire interest will be the betterment of the country,” she told reporters. “I will complete my responsibility toward the country and the people.”

    Bhandari’s candidacy was backed by at least eight political parties, some of which have formed a coalition in the new government.

    Although Bhandari is one of the leading female politicians in the country, she raised some eyebrows after her remarks at a program to discuss the new constitution, the first drawn up by elected representatives, were published in a local newspaper. The report said she criticized feminists and women’s rights advocates who are demanding more rights as influenced by Western values.

    “Whether we agree with it or not, in Eastern culture and tradition, a woman is entirely devoted to a man,” she said, according to the report. “This may be a discriminatory system, but our society has always functioned this way.”

    Nepal’s new constitution — although it provides quotas for women to serve on constitutional bodies — makes it difficult for a single mother to pass her citizenship to her child. According to the constitution, a child of a Nepali woman and a foreign man cannot get Nepali citizenship unless the man first takes Nepali citizenship; but children can become Nepali automatically if the father is Nepali, regardless of the mother’s nationality.

    The constitution also makes the path to citizenship longer and cumbersome for people marrying Nepali women compared to foreign nationals who marry Nepali men.

    Bhandari has incurred the wrath of activists for defending her party on such citizenship provisions. “Some may say she is not the most feminist person to become president,” said Guna Raj Luitel, editor of Nagarik Daily.

    Nepal’s new constitution, which had been controversial even before it was adopted last month, has been described as discriminatory by a large segment of Nepal’s population that lives in the southern plains bordered by India.

    To their point, the interim constitution that was adopted in 2006 said 58 percent of the parliament would be elected based on proportional representation, giving more voice to lower castes and indigenous groups. The new constitution changed that number to 45 percent.

    Nonstop protests against the constitution have led to a fuel crisis in the country, in part triggered by neighboring India’s restriction of supplies even at border checkpoints that aren’t affected by protests. (SD-Agencies)

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