Dechen Dolkar

The Election Commission of Bhutan (ECB) has  call for the local government (LG) elections for the remaining 24 vacant demkhongs in next month. 

During the third LG elections conducted on December 22 last year, most demkhongs didn’t have candidates to contest, and in a few demkhongs the aspiring candidates were affiliated to a political party and candidates were disqualified. In some demkhongs the aspiring candidates had secured highest  ‘No’ votes than ‘yes’ votes.

Out of the 1,044 chiwogs in the country, about 1,024 elected their tshogpas during third LG elections.

According to the ECB, the poll day for the elections will be on May 5th and polling hours will be from 9am to 5pm.

The registration of the postal ballot started yesterday and the last date for registration is on April 19.

The ECB officials said that in the light of the prevailing Covid-19 situation in the country, the ECB decided to extend the postal ballot facility to all the interested registered voters residing outside their demkhongs.

The last date for filing nominations of candidates is on April 18th, and, from April 21st, the candidates can start the campaign till May 3rd.

According to ECB, a candidate who aspires to contest for chiwog/thromde tshogpa elections will need to produce signatures of at least 5 percent of the registered voters from the demkhong supporting his/her nomination provided no voter has supported more than one nominee.

“Aspiring candidates, while seeking the support of 5 percent of the registered voters of his/her demkhong via signature drive, must ensure strict compliance to Covid-19 Health Safety Protocols while engaging with the voters,” EB officials said.

A candidate for this election cannot exceed his/her election campaign expense beyond Nu 75,000 the ceiling fixed by ECB.

ECB has also conducted Functional Literacy Test (FLT) in these vacant demkhongs, recently.

There should be at least five elected members to constitute a quorum for a gewog tshogde and thromde tshogde.

Without a quorum, LGs face difficulties while making and passing important decisions and developmental activities.

Shaba gup, Sangay Lhamo said that in absence of tshogpa in the chiwog, the works get delayed and all small things have to undertake by the gup.

“When there are small disputes in the villages where the tshogpa can resolve, it comes directly to the gup which sometimes it is wastage of time,” the gup said.