Election Commission of Bhutan (ECB) has again asked Bhutan Kuen-Nyam Party (BKP) to comply with its notice that states political parties should refrain from introducing candidates until electoral activities for the National Council (NC) are over.

Following the introduction of two candidates on April 2, ECB’s secretary Dawa Tenzin called BKP officials to remind the party.

However, the secretary said that he didn’t issue a warning letter. “I called them.”

Even after a notice the ECB served to all political parties on March 12, BKP revealed Kesang Choden as its candidate from Bardo-Trong in Zhemgang and Sonam Tshering from Womrong in Trashigang.

“In view of the NC electoral activities, I would earnestly request all the political parties to kindly refrain from party activities such as introduction of new candidates and visits to demkhong until the completion of the election in April 2018,” the secretary had in the notice stated.

This, the ECB stated was to avoid unnecessary miscommunication to the electorate.

ECB had also conveyed its objection to BKP when on March 13, it announced two candidates – Damber Ghimiray from Tsirangtoe constituency in Tsirang and Sherub Phuntsho from Menbi-Tshenkhar of Lhuentse.

Asked whether ECB would take any action against the party if it violates the notice again, Dawa Tenzin chose not to comment.

ECB’s media focal, Sonam Tobgay also did not comment.

A BKP press release earlier this month stated that restraining political parties from launching their candidates to the extent of disallowing social media posting was undesirable. It had stated “endless “dos” and “don’ts” injected fear, distrust and suspicion in the society and that in such an environment, strong foundation for a vibrant democracy will never be laid.

However, officials from other parties say that non-compliance with the notice would set a wrong precedent.

Druk Nyamrup Tshogpa’s general secretary, Tenzin Lekphel, said lack of strong action would lead to violation of more rules by other political parties in which case he said ECB would become weak.

He said, “We hope ECB is handling the violations well enough and it will not let political parties go out of hand.”

A member of People’s Democratic Party (PDP) said: “I think everybody, individuals and organisations, should abide by the law and the ECB’s notification. ECB sent the notification to all the party presidents and general secretaries so that they are aware of it.”

He cited two possible reasons for non-compliance by BKP.

“One, they [BKP] were really excited with these two candidates that they genuinely forgot the ECB notification. Two, they thought that the two candidates were such a big catch for them and didn’t want them to change their mind,” he said.

MB Subba