Chokhor-Tang bye-election likely to be held amid Covid-19

MB Subba

Election officials are preparing to carry out the bye-election in Bumthang’s Chokhor-Tang constituency.

Secretary of the Election Commission of Bhutan (ECB), Dawa Tenzin, said that preparations were being carried out and that the bye-election would be held if the election commission decides to do so.

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

However, there is no election commission today as the former commission completed its tenure on July 31.

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. 

However, the bye-election can be deferred if the election commission, in consultation with the government, certifies that it is difficult to hold the bye-election within the said period, according to Section 579 of the election Act. 

Dawa Tenzin said that it was possible to conduct the bye-election as there was no local transmission in Bumthang. “The constituency is also relatively small.”

The ECB secretary said that the ECB would announce the bye-election as soon as the new commission decides the date. “But it will depend on the commission to decide,” he added.

Both the ruling and the opposition parties have not announced their candidate.

A Druk Phuensum Tshogpa (DPT) MP said that his party had identified a candidate and would announce the candidate soon.

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.

The ruling party, Druk Nyamrup Tshogpa (DNT), is also yet to declare its candidate. However, sources said that DNT is likely to field its 2018 candidate, Dawa.

In the 2018 general election, Dawa secured a total vote of 1,536 votes. Former OL Pema Gyamtsho secured 3,251 votes.

The constituency had a total registered voters of 6,051 in 2018.

According to the election Act, the electoral roll for a parliamentary constituency shall be revised before a bye-election to fill a casual vacancy.

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