This week, Bhutan will see another important milestone passed in its journey as a  democracy when three chairpersons of constitutional offices retire after completing their terms.

The Chairperson of the Anti Corruption Commission, Dasho Neten Zangmo, Chief Election Commissioner, Dasho Kunzang Wangdi and the Auditor General, Dasho Ugen Chewang, were appointed as Bhutan prepared for the great transition to a Democratic Constitutional Monarchy in 2006. It brought alive three important institutions in the fledgling democracy.

It was a first step in our evolution to a new political system.  We have come a long way.  It has been nine years since.  There will be conclusions and discussions as to whether the heads of the constitutional offices functioned well, or set the right precedence, as the first chairpersons.  But they have been busy, especially the Election Commission and the Anti Corruption Commission.

We have seen two parliamentary elections and several rounds of local government elections, including bye-elections, conducted successfully, albeit amidst some controversy.  Today, we have a strong election machinery manned by people, who were groomed well through several rounds of elections and are confident of fulfilling the mandate of building a strong foundation in the process of establishing democratic practices and norms.

The ACC will be remembered more for taking public officials to task.  With a mandate to curb and root out corruption, the commission has been the busiest.  Today, as the chairperson and the commissioners leave office, they can boast of leaving behind a strong democratic institution.

Looking back, these are relatively new institutions.  But what we can rejoice about is having strong democratic institutions in place.  The chairperson leaving symbolises the completion of a period in our transition to democracy.  We are still relatively a new democracy.  And these institutions will continue to play a vital role in ensuring that democracy succeeds in Bhutan, by providing checks and balances and ensuring transparency.

With the guidance of wise leadership at the helm, these institutions have created an identity as Bhutan was transitioning to democracy.  They will continue to rise above the electoral process and provide the arena within which our young democracy will only mature.

There are some concerns on what might happen with the chairpersons leaving after completing their term, which will be followed by the commissioners.  This arises from the fact that the ACC has several cases, some very sensitive, in its hands, and the election commission has elections to conduct early next year.

The beauty is that there will be continuity even as we embrace change.  The institutions were established to prepare for democracy.  A handful of officials were chosen to head the constitutional offices.  More will be chosen in times to come.  Strong foundations have been laid with clear visions; they will be carried forward without compromising the importance of the democratic institutions.