LG: Three former gups have lost to new ones in the second local government elections in Gasa. All three gups had more than 12 years of experience in local governance.

Laya, Khatoe, and Khamae gewogs have let go of former gups Kinley Dorji, Pema Dorji, and Karma Tshering.

The lone new gup candidate, Kaka Tshering from Thangza-Toenchoe chiwog secured the post. The gewog’s sole mangmi nominee Gyem Tshering from Lhedi, was elected.

Kaka Tshering said he would focus on building roads closer to the gewog.

The new candidates proposed to introduce better transparency in budget use and development activities.

A retired monk beat the former gup with more than a dozen years of local government experience. Kinley Penjore from Damji chiwog secured the post of gup with 12 votes more than Karma Tshering who received 210 votes. A former contract teacher of Bjishong Central School, Damcho Dorji, also from Damji was elected the Khamaed gewog mangmi.

Kinley Penjore promised to bring about quality development as most of the roads and infrastructure built are deteriorating from lack of maintenance. “Whatever the government spends on development will yield results,” Kinley Penjore pledged.

Former gup Kinley Dorji from Gayza-Lungo chiwog lost to newcomer Lhakpa Tshering.

Khatoe gewog chose a young candidate over two senior candidates including the former gup and dzongkhag tshogdu chairperson Pema Dorji. The two other gup candidates, even if combined could not beat Thinley Wangdi the youngest candidate, aged 33. Former gup Pema Dorji and Chador Tshering secured only eight postal ballots while Thinley Wangdi received 33 postal ballots. Pema Dorji got 50 EVM votes and Chador Tshering got 44 EVM votes, while Thinley Wangdi triumphed with more than double their number of votes securing 134 EVM votes.

Elections officials’ concerns of poor voter turnout were unwarranted as voters turned out in hordes across all polling stations. The poor response during common forums, the most attendance being 20, had raised concerns for poll day. The gewogs recorded a turnout of more than 60 percent, the least being in Lunana gewog with 62.5 percent of the registered voters.

The dzongkhag had 1,562 voters, of which 81.2 percent turned up to vote, with slightly more women voting.

However, it was the least of issues bothering the two returning officers in Gasa.

Concerns that the frequent blackouts and roadblocks from incessant rain that could hamper voters getting to polling stations plagued them. Roadblocks on the Gasa-Punakha highway on September 25 lasted more than 24 hours. Despite regular monitoring by the Bhutan Power Corporation, a broken branch of a tree cut power supply to the dzongkhag for a few hours yesterday morning.

The election commission published on its website results soon after polls closed. The results for the Laya gewog gup’s post was wrong. It did not show the completed voting results from all polling stations.

Officials on election duty stayed late into the night after many dzongkhags confirmed and declared their results.

Tshering Palden | Gasa