Nepal elects Onsari Gharti Magar as first woman speaker of parliament

KATHMANDU (AFP) - Nepal's parliament elected its first woman speaker on Friday (Oct 16), as the country continued forming its new government after the adoption of a landmark constitution last month.

Maoist parliamentarian Onsari Gharti Magar was unanimously elected as the House speaker after her only competitor, Anuradha Thapa of the Nepal Majdoor Kisan Party, withdrew her candidacy.

"She has become the first woman speaker of Nepal, with the backing of all the parties," spokesman for Nepal's parliament secretariat Bharat Gautam, told Agence France-Presse.

Ms Magar, 37, held the position of the deputy speaker in Nepal's second constituent assembly and tendered her resignation this week to pave way for the election.

"At this time when we have to make new laws and acts, it is important for all parties to work in unison," Ms Magar said after her election.

"I intend to take this forward by treating all political parties equally," she said.

Ganga Prasad Yadav of the royalist Rastriya Prajatantra Party Nepal was also unanimously elected the deputy speaker.

Nepal on Sunday (Oct 11) elected communist leader K.P. Sharma Oli as its new prime minister after former premier Sushil Koirala stepped down as required by the new constitution adopted on Sept 20.

The constitution, the first drawn up by elected representatives, is aimed at bolstering the Himalayan country's transformation to a peaceful democracy after decades of political instability and a civil war.

After years of bickering about the charter, the devastating earthquake that hit the country in April spurred the main political parties into agreement on the document.

However, the new constitution has also been met with discontent, triggering a blockade by protesters at a vital border checkpoint, cutting off fuel supplies from sole provider India and sparking a nationwide shortage.