The local government is likely to take its full shape when the 60 vacant constituencies go to the polls on April 18.

The second local government (LG) elections were officially concluded in September 2016 but no one stepped forward as candidates in most of the constituencies that today remain vacant.

There are four thromde ngotshab posts, equivalent of mangmi, up for grabs in Gasa, Mongar, Pemagatshel and Paro towns. Another 52 chiwog tshogpa and five thromde tshogpa posts remain to be filled.

Chief election officer Phub Dorji said all mangmi posts are filled, as are all gup posts.

Candidates have until March 30 to file nominations.

The announcement is a relief especially for the Phuentsholing thromde and Lingzhi gewog of Thimphu. The two have remained without a quorum to constitute a tshogde, which is the decision-making body.

Important decisions must be passed by a tshogde. There must be at least five elected members to constitute a quorum for a tshogde, both for thromdes and gewogs.

From the total of seven constituencies the Phuentsholing thromde is made up of, only four members including the thrompon were elected. Similarly, there are only three elected members in Lingzhi gewog – the gup, the mangmi and a tshogpa.

Three out of five tshogpa constituencies in the thromde remains to be filled. In Lingzhi, there are five tshogpa constituencies, but four remain vacant. Elections in the gewog were held in September last year.

The thromde and the gewog have been facing difficulties when matters related to budget like gewog development grants are to be endorsed. Similarly, the thromde is handicapped when it comes to major important decisions such as endorsement of budget and framing of rules and regulations.

Most gewogs and thromdes have quorums, but do not have a tshogpa in one or two constituencies. In such cases, local leaders say the constituencies would not be represented adequately.

The thromde also hasn’t elected its deputy chairperson although the LG Act requires it to have one from among the elected members.

Dzongkhag election offices will continue to distribute voter cards to those who were unable to collect them earlier even up to poll day.

The ECB has notified ministers, MPs and members of political parties not to campaign directly or indirectly for any candidate. “No trips or official tours shall be undertaken by a minister or MP to a demkhong during the election period except to cast their votes on the poll day should they wish not to use the postal ballot facility extended to them,” the ECB has stated in a notification.

This also applies to elected members of a local government.

A candidate will be allowed to spend up to Nu 50,000 for his or her campaign from his own pocket as LG candidates are not entitled to state funding. However, most of the candidates in the last LG elections opted not to spend money on campaign.

The ECB has advised voters to carry with them their citizenship cards. In the event of any dispute related to their voter card, the citizenship card will form the basis for taking a decision by the presiding officer.

MB Subba