Nepal has a new president, Ram Chandra Paudel, who was elected by the parliament on Thursday amid political uncertainty and instability in the country. Paudel, a veteran leader of the Nepali Congress party, defeated his rival Subash Chandra Nembwang, the speaker of the House of Representatives, by a wide margin of votes.
Paudel secured 33,802 electoral votes, while Nembwang got 15,518 votes, according to Nepal’s Election Commission. Paudel’s victory was backed by a coalition of parties that opposed Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba’s decision to dissolve the parliament and call for snap elections in April.
Paudel will be sworn in on Monday by the acting chief justice at the presidential residence. He will be the third president of Nepal since the country abolished its monarchy and became a republic in 2008. He will succeed Bidya Devi Bhandari, who completed her second term on Wednesday.
Paudel’s election comes at a time when Nepal is facing multiple challenges, such as the COVID-19 pandemic, economic crisis, border disputes with India and China, and political turmoil. Paudel has vowed to uphold the constitution and work for national unity and development.
Paudel’s election is also likely to have implications for Nepal’s foreign relations, especially with its two giant neighbors, India and China. Both countries have been vying for influence in Nepal, which is strategically located between them. Paudel is seen as more pro-India than his predecessor, who was close to China. However, Chinese experts have said that Beijing’s Nepal policy will see more continuity than change under Paudel, as China respects Nepal’s sovereignty and independence.