MB Subba

The Election Commission of Bhutan (ECB) has announced that the bye-elections in Bumtnang’s Chhoekhor-Tang constituency will be held on November 19.

Registration for postal ballots will start today. The election campaign will begin on October 24.

The ECB has not restricted campaign activities despite the Covid-19 situation.

An election official said that it was possible to conduct the bye-election as there was no local transmission in the dzongkhag. He said the constituency was also relatively small.

The ECB has notified that common forum will be conducted strictly as per the Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) for National Assembly bye-election amid Covid-19. Common forums will be held in chiwogs and the dzongkhag thromde.

Door-to-door campaigns will be allowed only between 6am and 6pm.

The ECB notified that all electoral stakeholders may use social media platforms for election or campaign purposes but shall ensure to abide generally by the electoral laws, election code of conduct and the Social Media Rules.

The candidates are not allowed to serve meals or refreshments, nor pay, give gifts, or reward the general public or voters for attendance of election campaigns. The candidates are also not allowed to produce, wear and distribute T-shirts and caps to people.

“No one shall carry any sort of audio/photo/video recording device in and around a Polling Station on Poll Day except those authorised to do so,” the ECB notifies.

The constituency became vacant with the official resignation of former Opposition Leader Pema Gyamtsho (PhD) on September 7. 

As per the election Act, a bye-election for filling a vacancy to Parliament shall be held within a period of 90 days from the date of the occurrence of the vacancy.

Druk Nyamrup Tshogpa (DNT) has fielded its 2018 candidate, Dawa, against Druk Phuensum Tshogpa (DPT)’s Tenzin Norbu.

The Opposition Party has won one bye-election and lost another in the past. In 2013, DPT won the bye-election in the Nanong Shumar constituency of Pemagatshel but lost the bye-election in North Thimphu constituency in 2016.

As per the notification, any person who attains the age of eighteen years on October 1, 2020 will be eligible to vote.

All banks and financial institutions have been asked to report to the ECB any abnormal transaction of money, including in the account of the candidates.

The ECB has also restricted travels, public gatherings or official tours by any Member of Parliament or party officials to the constituency during election period except for attending offices located in the constituency unless permitted for necessary works.