Jackson Dukpa said that he would move Supreme Court against the ECB’s decision

The Election Commission of Bhutan (ECB) has rejected the application for registration of Druk Gaki Tshogpa, an aspiring political party formed by former civil servant Chheku Dukpa, also known as Jackson Dukpa.

The decision to refuse registration for the party was taken at the commission’s meeting held on March 15.

The application received on February 9 this year, the ECB through a notification stated was subjected to due scrutiny and review against the provisions of the Constitution and electoral laws.

According to the ECB, the applicant party submitted a final list of 308 registered members. However, irregularities in 29 cases were found with names not in the electoral roll, names of religious personalities, mismatch of names and constituency mistake.

The Druk Gaki Tshogpa did not have members in two constituencies, the ECB stated.

The ECB received a list of 25 potential candidates out of which the commission found that two candidates were not registered members of the party.

One candidate, the ECB added appeared to be “a different person, of different gender”, which was informed to the applicant party but no rectified list was received.

“There are no potential candidates for half of the 47 constituencies,” the notification stated. In terms of the profile of the candidates in the list submitted, the commission found that 20 are in the 25 to 35 years of age.

Jackson Dukpa said that he would move Supreme Court against the ECB’s decision. “We will appeal against the ECB’s decision in the Supreme Court,” he said.

He said that the party filed its application as per the Election Act of Bhutan. No laws, he said, say that we need to submit the list of candidates for registration of a party.

“We are not filing our application with the intention to contest the 2018 elections,” he said. “Filing for registration does not necessarily mean that we will contest the 2018 election.”

The ECB stated, “Serious concerns remain on the party ideology which is found to be general and nothing is mentioned about how the substantive task of national development is envisioned thereby appearing to be not prepared for a national mandate,” the ECB stated.

The ECB also raised concerns on leadership related to the lack of potential candidates for half of the constituencies as well as the lack of even a single person with demonstrated leadership ability at the national level or experience of having held an office of public responsibility and authority at a certain level.

Preparedness of the applicant party to contest elections, that too in the very near future, the ECB said was a major concern.

“There are no indications of having taken into account the prospect of handling the reins of government or being in Parliament, which is a real possibility as a registered political party and an outcome any registered political party should be prepared for.”

According to the Election Act 2008, a party of individual citizens of Bhutan calling itself a political party and intending to contest elections under this Act shall submit its application to the Election Commission for its registration as a political party for the purposes of this Act.

The Act states that the Election Commission shall decide either to register a party as a political party for the purposes of this Act, or refuse to register it after considering all the particulars as aforesaid in its possession and giving the representatives of the party reasonable opportunity of being heard.

MB Subba