Works and human settlement ministry clarifies that full term of thrompon has been completed despite five-year term not ending 

LG: The first sitting of the thromde tshogde for the second term of the elected members in Gelephu was conducted, yesterday.

This was following a last-minute directive from the works and human settlement minister Dorji Choden. The tshogde was convened in less than an hour.

On February 8, Gelephu thromde wrote to the works and human settlement minister seeking directives regarding an ambiguity on the tenure of the thrompon. The letter was copied to the Chief Election Commissioner as well.  While the former thrompon’s term ends on March 15, the new thrompon is yet to assume office in Gelephu.

But according to the Election Act of Bhutan 2008, a Local Government will continue for five years from the date of the first sitting. The first Sitting should be convened within 30 days of declaration of election results.

Yesterday was the 30th day after declaration of election results on January 26, 2016. Thromde officials said without clear directives from the government, they could not decide anything on their own.

“Since the former thrompon’s tenure had not ended we were seeking directives how to go about it,” an official said. “Since there was no response we didn’t plan a tshogde.”

Yesterday afternoon the thromde received directives to go ahead and conduct the first sitting.

In less than an hour a thromde tshogde was called. New thrompon Tika Ram Kafley said the first sitting had to be conducted ad hoc and members were not prepared. “We could not prepare at all for this first sitting,” he said. “We included only important things in the agenda.”

Otherwise before conducting a tshogde issues would be first discussed with the public of each demkhong. After public consent only, issues that are unable to solve with sector heads are brought to the tshogde. Agenda will be finalized two to three days before the sitting.

In the tshogde, that lasted less than three hours, besides endorsing the budget proposal for the financial year 2016-2017, new thromde tshogpas were briefed on the Local Area Plans and the structural plan. A  few other miscellaneous issues were also discussed.

The letter signed by Lyonpo Dorji Choden states that there was some confusion in the dates in the electoral process.  “However as the new thromde tshogde will be reconstituted, tenure of the existing thrompon should be deemed to have been completed its full term even though the five year term will not be completed,” the letter states. “This is issued to safeguard the interest of the thromde and as the ministry responsible for urban development stipulated in section 210 of the LG Act of Bhutan.”

Thromde officials interpreted that according to the letter the former thrompon is admissible to get full retirement benefits now.

Gelephu thromde officials were of the view that the Election Commission of Bhutan and the government should clarify the ambiguity of the thrompon’s tenure to avoid such confusions in the future.

Nirmala Pokhrel