… candidates nominated from these chiwogs were disqualified on various grounds

Phurpa Lhamo 

Voters in Changyul-Loongsilgang-Tashijong chiwog in Punakha, Shingchongri chiwog in Pemagatshel, and Sergithang-Nye chiwog in Tsirang will attend the dhamngoi zomdu once again to re-nominate candidates for gup and mangmi.

The meetings will be organised by tomorrow at the latest to ensure that the campaign period won’t be hampered.

Shingchongri’s mangmi nominee was unable to produce the security clearance, and the gup nominee from Sergithang-Nye chiwog in Tsirang passed away; and for the gup nominee from Changyul-Loongsilgang-Tashijong, the party de-registration date had been misinterpreted.

Kuensel learned that the RAA is in the process of revoking some more audit clearances.

Including the disqualified candidates, Changyul-Loongsilgang-Tashijong chiwog in Punakha had three gup aspirants, there were three mangmi aspirants in Shingchongri chiwog in Pemagatshel, and three gup aspirants in Sergithang-Nye chiwog in Tsirang.

The campaign period for the contestants commences today.

According to the Election Commission of Bhutan (ECB) spokesperson Phub Dorji the dhamngoi zomdu will be held as soon as possible to ensure that the other schedules aren’t hampered, including the sending of the postal ballots, which begins on November 26.

He said that after the scrutiny of the nomination of the candidates, the commission found that there were chiwogs that had multiple candidates. “The commission decided that it isn’t fair to deprive the chiwog of the nominations.”

Phub Dorji said that there would be no additional cost incurred for the zomdu, apart from it being inconvenient for the voters.   

The second zomdu will be held for chiwogs that had more than one candidate contesting for gup or mangmi, and not for those that had only a single nominee.

Further, there will be no zomdus for the chiwogs with tshogpa nominees who were disqualified after the scrutiny of the documents on November 23.

Rukha chiwog of Athang gewog, Wangdue, will not have the second zomdu despite the disqualification of one candidate each for the post of gup and tshogpa.

Similarly, Tashidingkha-Zimi chiwog in Dangchu gewog in Wangdue will not have a nominee for gup. The RAA revoked the audit clearance of the gup candidate from the chiwog.

The issue in Punakha 

Three individuals participated in the dhamngoi zomdu held on November 10 in Changyul-Loongsilgang-Tashijong chiwog for aspiring gups for Guma gewog in Punakha..

Of the three, Tashi won with 149 votes out of more than 300 votes cast during the zomdu.

But Tashi didn’t file his nominations for the local government elections, as he has yet to fulfil the one-year cooling-off period after deregistering from a party.

During the dhamngoi zomdu, his nomination was accepted with a deregistration document issued by an official of the ECB.

In the document, it was reflected that he had deregistered from a party on November 12 last year.

Tashi said that when filing for his candidacy after winning at the dhamngoi zomdu, the online system showed that he had deregistered from the party on December 11.

One of the requirements to take part in the LG elections is that the aspiring candidate isn’t a member of a political party.

ECB spokesperson Phub Dorji said that the cooling period of one year after deregistering from a party should be fulfilled prior to the last day for nominations.

The last day to file for the nomination was on November 22.

ECB’s Phub Dorji said that Tashi had obtained the document from an ECB official who had generated the document from a MacBook Pro laptop. There, he said, the format of the date was ‘month-date-year’ and not the usual practice of ‘day-month-year’.

Tashi said that the chiwog had one of the highest voter turnouts.

“It isn’t my fault that the dates are different. I did bring the document from the ECB office in Thimphu.”

“Now that I have withdrawn after being disqualified, the villagers misunderstand that I am resigning by my own choice,” Tashi said.

“This is the third LG election, such mistakes are unacceptable.”

In another case, mangmi aspirant Sangay Tenzin couldn’t take part in the elections after he was found to be registered with a political party.

Sangay Tenzin said that he went to take part in the dhamngoi zomdu after an ECB official informed him that he had been deregistered from a party and was eligible.

However, when submitting his documents, he was found to be registered with a party.

ECB spokesperson Phub Dorji said that the details on party membership status for all parties should be shown on a single page.

“But it was done manually in the past. Now we have developed a system and it won’t happen henceforth.”

Tsirang and Pemagatshel

In Tsirang, the Patshaling gup nominee from Pangthang chiwog’s audit clearance was revoked by the RAA for alleged misuse of authority. However, since the chiwog had only one candidate, the zomdu is not held again. The zomdu for Sergithang-Nye chiwog is held today.

A letter from the RAA stated that he had misused his authority while serving as a gup.

The RAA also decided to forward the case to the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC).

In Pemagatshel, the mangmi nominee from Shingchongri chiwog for Decheeling gewog was unable to produce security clearance. Thus, during the scrutiny of the nominations of candidates, the mangmi candidate was disqualified.

Corrigendum: The dhamngoi zomdu in Tsirang is being held in Sergithang-Nye chiwog and not in Pangthang chiwog as mentioned in the original story.