The election commission has issued a warning to a Tarayana foundation official Sonam Jamtsho, who is currently working in Ney in Gangzur gewog for allegedly campaigning for Druk Nyamrup Tshogpa (DNT) in the villages including Tsaenkhar in Lhuentse.

The decision came following a case filed by DPT’s dzongkhag coordinator alleging that Sonam Jamtsho had campaigned in different villages to solicit votes for DNT.  The complainant alleged that on October 14, Sonam Jamtsho had defamed DPT and asked the kidu recipients to vote for DNT, as it is an order from higher authority at Tsaenkhar village in front of the kidu recipients.

A voice recording was also submitted to the ECB as evidence.

The decision stated that, the respondent was interrogated over the phone in the interest of time, since the election is a day away from the receipt of complaint based on the audio record, the complaint letter submitted by the complainant as well as telephonic statement provided by the respondent.

According to the findings of the commission, Sonam Jamtsho confirmed that the voice recording was his and claimed that it was recorded without his knowledge.

He stated that there is no order from higher authority to solicit vote from kidu recipients.  According to the commission’s decision, the respondent in his telephonic statement stated that he made the reference to higher authority in due course of conversation which also included his work related matter, and he was basing it on social media discussion.

In the decision, the respondent’s conversation was only with the kidu recipients and there is no evidence that he campaigned in different villages to solicit votes.

On defamation, it stated that the respondent did not defame DPT as no defamatory words or hate message was found in the audio recoding. “It is noted that the respondent mentioned the power and free choice of the voter a number of times,” it states.

Quoting section 67 of the notification issued by the ECB calling the elections to the national assembly of the third parliament 2018, which states “Religious and Civil Society Organisations and public entities shall not participate, directly or indirectly, or give grounds to reasonably construe support, opposition or dislike of any candidate contesting the elections,” the commission issued a warning in person by the chief election coordinator.

The parties could appeal if they are not satisfied with the decision.

Tshering Namgyal  | Lhuentse