Dechen Dolkar

Iron Female Ox Year-Election: Never were so many elections held in a short period as it was done in the Female Ox Year. The year witnessed three bye-elections for constituencies of the National Assembly, third local government elections, and the third thromde elections.

In April, last year, voters of Thimphu and Gelephu chose new thrompons over the incumbent ones. A former urban planner of the thromde office, Ugyen Dorji was elected in Thimphu, and Gelephu thromde has elected Tshering Norbu, a contractor. Phuntsholing gave another five-year term to Thrompon Uttar Kumar Rai.

Unlike normal situations, the election in Phuntsholing thromde was held during a lockdown, election officials collected votes from door to door services.

On June 29, the bye-elections of Mongar and Nganglam constituencies were held.

After 13 years and four rounds of elections, the Druk Phuensum Tshogpa’s (DPT) stronghold in Pemagatshel is broken. Druk Nyamrup Tshogpa (DNT) candidate Karma Dorji, secured 2,951 votes to DPT candidate Richen Pelzang’s 2,285 votes.

Similarly, Mongar constituency DNT candidate Karma Lhamo, a former DPT MP, won the bye-election with 4,149 against 2,035 of DPT candidate Dorji Youden.

The former home minister and Mongar MP, Dasho Sherub Gyeltshen resigned on May 6 after both the Prime Minister and Speaker of the National Assembly accepted his resignation.

The larger bench of the High Court sentenced him to two months in prison for claiming false vehicle insurance worth Nu 226,546. The crime took place after he superannuated from the civil service and before he joined DNT to contest in the third parliamentary elections.

The former Nganglam MP Choida Jamtsho from Pemagatshel died on the night of April 18 after consuming a curry made of some wild plant in Baelangdra, Wangduephodrang.

On December 24, the third LG elections were held in all gewogs across the country.

The Royal Audit Authority (RAA) revoked the audit clearance of nine LG candidates in November disqualifying them from participating in the LG elections. It was revoked because the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) had written to authority saying that the individuals have cases against them.

However, seven of the nine local leader candidates, whose audit clearances were revoked, appealed to the High Court on November 29.  The court dismissed their plea saying that the court does not have jurisdiction to question the legality of any decision taken or given by the election commission.

RAA on December 6 reinstated the audit clearances of the nine candidates following a letter from the ACC. The Election Commission of Bhutan (ECB) then rescheduled elections in the eight affected gewogs on January 6.

Third LG elections recorded the highest voter turnout so far with 68.42 percent. It also saw eight candidates with master’s degrees contesting for posts of gup and mangmi.

Third LG elections also saw increasing women participation and elected in various posts. From a lone woman gup, which represented 0.5 percent in the first LG elections to two women gups, which was 0.98 percent in the second LG elections, the third elected seven women gups, making it 3.41 percent.

In the first LG elections in 2011, 165 women contested for various posts. In the second LG elections, more than 200 contested. The third LG election saw about 491 women contest for various LG posts.

Meanwhile, the voters and candidates were reportedly frustrated with the commission for the delay in declaring provisional results on the poll day. Many knew about the results only the next day. It was learned that the ECB system got crushed and SMS application was not working properly which led to a delay in declaring the result. The ECB declared the official results towards evening the next day.

On February 3, Druk Nyamrup Tshogpa candidate Karma Gyeltshen won the Khamdang-Ramjar bye-election with 3,152 votes against Druk Phuensum Tshogpa candidate Jigme Tashi.

Khamdang-Ramjar constituency post was vacant since November 15 after former MP Kuenga Loday from Khamdang-Ramjar tendered his resignation to the speaker.

The MP was sentenced to five years in prison by the Trashiyangtse dzongkhag court on August 14 this year for the illegal construction of a road in a restricted area.