Nima Wangdi

The Drakteng gup candidate in Trongsa who was disqualified by the Election Commission of Bhutan (ECB) recently expressed his dissatisfaction with the commission’s decision.

Gup candidate and the former Drakteng Gup, Kinzang Dorji, 41, contesting from Khatoe gewog, said he did not commit a crime that warranted disqualification. “I was accused of colluding with three others in registering postal ballots for others. I did not register for a single person,” he said.

Kinzang Dorji was charged for submitting a false statement under Section 530 of the Election Act of Bhutan, 2008. The Section states, any person who makes or induces any other person to make a false statement in an application for a postal ballot shall be guilty of the offence of misdemeanor.

The candidate said he never asked his village mate or helped people register for postal ballots to submit a false statement to the ECB. “That person did everything and I have to face the consequences. I feel the ECB has no reason to even contact me in this matter. They should deal with that person,” Kinzang said.

He accepted that he sent the citizenship identity card (CID) numbers of some of his neighbours who are working outside the village for voter registration with consent. “I never asked that person to register all of them for the conventional postal ballot under his care,” he said.

He said that to ask for support and help people get registered for voting was the job of the candidate.

He had asked people around for support through phone calls and on social media and that’s how candidates solicit support. “The person helped people get registered for postal ballots under his care, but I didn’t ask him to do that for me,” he said.

Kinzang Dorji said that the ECB called him for two virtual meetings with the Dispute Settlement Committee, but he could not get enough of an opportunity to explain. He did not even know what the matter was when he was called for the first meeting. “The decision was harsh.”

Kinzang Dorji said he would appreciate it if the ECB could review its decision.

“Filing a case at the district court after the election doesn’t make any sense. The elections will be done and it will only be a waste of time,” he said.

ECB officials said earlier that they had to disqualify the Gup and a Tshogpa candidate for colluding with the other two in registering postal ballots for 116 persons, all under one person’s care. “The ECB could only fine the other two supporters, given the commission’s jurisdiction.”

“The two candidates were disqualified on December 10 after reviewing the matter thoroughly,” ECB officials said in an earlier interview.

ECB officials said they have a three-tiered dispute settlement system, dzongkhag dispute settlement to central dispute settlement committee, and then the commission. “This decision came from the commission and if the person wishes to go further, he has to register the case with the district court after the elections.”