… he will face the PDP president 

KP Sharma

Bhutan Tendrel Party (BTP) yesterday declared Sonam Penjor as its new candidate for Sombaykha constituency in Haa after the Election Commission of Bhutan disqualified its initial candidate, Ngawang Tobgay. 

Sonam Penjor contested in the primary elections as Druk Phuensum Tshogpa’s candidate from the constituency. 

The ECB disqualified the candidate during the filing of nomination invoking section 179 of the Election Act 2008.

While there are numerous subsections of Section 179 of the Act, the ECB did not specify the particular sub-section it invoked. Party officials stated that since the candidate meets all the criteria, they suspect the commission invoked section 179(c). It states that a candidate could be disqualified if the person has been dismissed or removed from public service or the corporate sector. 

The party stated that as per the definition of a public servant and public office outlined in the Anti-Corruption Act of Bhutan 2011, Ngawang Tobgay is not considered a public servant.

It was learnt that a previous case involving Ngawang Tobgay had been dismissed, attributing it to an administrative lapse and the Haa dzongkhag court issued a formal affidavit allowing participation in the election on December 7. 

According to the party, the ECB had denied the candidacy before the court affidavit could be submitted to the returning officer.

ECB officials were not available for comment regarding the grounds on which the candidate was disqualified from participating in the election.

Druk Phuensum Tshogpa stated that after extensive deliberations, the party has agreed to relieve Sonam Penjor to stand as BTP’s candidate.

The party said that this decision was a demonstration of the party’s unwavering loyalty and commitment to supporting BTP in realising the noble vision and aspirations of the King as well as ensuring a vibrant and responsible democracy. 

BTP officials said that following the ECB’s directive allowing only candidates who participated in the primary election to join, they reached out to candidates from the other three parties. Only Sonam Penjor accepted the invitation to join the party. 

Sonam Penjor holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Bhutanese and Himalayan Studies from the College of Language and Cultural Studies. He served as a teacher at Denchukha Lower Secondary School. He is also an entrepreneur in Haa. He is from Balama under Samar gewog.

He will contest against People’s Democratic Party president Tshering Tobgay in the general round of the fourth National Assembly elections.