Nepal’s first woman speaker is an ex-guerrilla fighter

Kathmandu, Oct 16 (IANS) Creating history, the Nepali parliament on Friday unanimously elected as speaker former guerrilla fighter Onsari Gharti Magar — the first woman to grace the office in the Himalayan nation.

Thirty-eight-year-old Gharti Magar, of the Unified Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist), was elected unopposed after Nepal Mazdoor Kisan Party nominee Anuradha Thapa withdrew her candidacy.

Gharti Magar was deputy speaker of the Constituent Assembly which evolved itself into the country’s parliament after adopting a new secular federal constitution on September 20.

As mandated by the new constitution, the country’s parliament has already elected a new prime minister — in K.P. Sharma Oli of the CPN (Unified Marxist-Leninist) — and following the election of a new speaker on Friday, was set to elect the country’s new president and vice president.

Gharti Magar is a former Maoist guerrilla who carried a gun during the decade-long Maoist insurgency that ended in 2006. She belongs to the ethnic Magar community of western Nepal and hails from the remote underdeveloped Rolpa district from where the Maoists launched their armed rebellion in 1996.

During the civil war, she married Maoist commander Barsha Man Pun.

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