His Majesty The King issued the Royal Kasho appointing the interim government yesterday.

As per Article 19, section 2 of the Constitution, “The Interim Government shall consist of a Chief Advisor and other Advisors appointed by the Druk Gyalpo within fifteen days after the dissolution of the National Assembly. The Chief Justice of Bhutan shall be appointed as the Chief Advisor.”

In accordance with the Constitution, His Majesty The King appointed Chief Justice Tshering Wangchuk, as the Chief Advisor of the Interim Government, a press release from the Royal Office for Media states.

His Majesty The King appointed the President of Centre for Bhutan Studies, Dasho Karma Ura; Governor of Royal Monetary Authority, Dasho Penjore; Chairman of Druk Holding and Investments Ltd., Dasho Ugen Chewang; Managing Director of Druk Green Power Corporation Ltd., Dasho Chhewang Rinzin; Chairperson of Royal Civil Service Commission, Dasho Karma Tshiteem, Chairperson of the Anti-Corruption Commission, Kinley Yangzom; Vice Chancellor of Royal University of Bhutan, Nidup Dorji, and Managing Director of Kuensel Corporation Ltd., Bachu Phub Dorji, as the advisors who will constitute the interim government.

The Royal Decree directs the interim government to ensure uninterrupted continuance of the routine functions of the government until the new Prime Minister enters office after the new National Assembly has been constituted.

Article 19 of Section 1 of the Constitution of the Kingdom of Bhutan mandates that, “Whenever the National Assembly is dissolved, the Druk Gyalpo shall appoint an Interim Government to function for a period, which shall not exceed ninety days, to enable the Election Commission to hold free and fair elections.”

Upon the appointment of the Interim Government, the Prime Minister and the Ministers who were in office immediately before the National Assembly was dissolved have to resign from office.

The former chief justice and chairman of the drafting committee of the Constitution, Sonam Tobgye said that the 15 days period has significant meaning.

“There has to be some transition between the outgoing government and the interim government. If this provision was not kept and that the interim government was to be appointed the very next day after the government leaves, then it might appear in our culture as if we have waited for the term of the government to end and get rid of them.” he said.

“Then there is the need to consider zakar or good days for the appointment of the interim government from the religious point,” he said.

Bhutan, through the adoption of the Constitution, chose to have an interim government over a caretaker government.

“When we explored on these two forms of government, only Bangladesh had a system of interim government in the region,” he said.

While the system had its flaws, it was the better option. Then numerous measures were put in place to remedy those flaws that existed in this kind of governance in other parts of the world, he said.

The Constitution states that the Interim Government shall cease to exist from the date on which the new Prime Minister enters office when the new National Assembly is constituted.

The former chief justice said that in other countries, some governments refused to leave their office. On other occasions, the caretaker governments refuse to hand over the reign of the government and leave office.

“So there are specific provisions in the Constitution to avoid such situations in our country,” former chief justice Sonam Tobgye said.

He said that to ensure the government does not overstay their mandate period, the interim will be appointed within 15 days after the NA dissolves, or if that doesn’t happen then the moment interim government is appointed the Cabinet will have to resign.

“Interlocking system and provisions,” he said.

Throughout the world, the electoral reforms suggest that long period campaign is expensive, great harassment for the people, and not good for the country. Some countries have unlimited campaign period. “Consequently, the government is always canvassing and not really doing the governance,” he said.

What if the elections cannot be conducted in three months? “They have to be,” he said.

Calling the NA elections in a short period also had its disadvantages, therefore, it was suggested for three to six months term. “For us one month is too less. Thinking back, three months was bit too long as there is harassment.  Certainly, in two months they can do primary and general rounds but three months is all right and it can be conducted.”

While drafting the Constitution, the committee was thinking of educating voters and familiarisations, and other things, he said.

“Bhutan took a unique and historical role for having a mock session; we wanted to educate people since it was the first time. We thought the general elections will be a simultaneous election but we didn’t think that in a different period,” he said.

Under the parliamentary form of government, it works with aid and advice to the King who is the head of the state.

“The government cannot take all the decisions without advising the King. The Prime Minister or the government acts on the behalf of the people after aiding and advising the head of the state,” he said. “Because of that we chose to term the members of the interim government as advisors.”

In this context there were also a few times, when the Prime Minister often took decisions without informing the head of the state. In the UK Parliament, the Queen is the first to know of any decision the government takes.

Handing over the reins of governance, the out-going prime minister, at a press conference Dasho Tshering Tobgay said that his Cabinet resigned from office formally yesterday morning.

The last thing he did before leaving office, was clearing the table in his office and meeting the officials from the Gross National Happiness Commission. He said,he then offered a prayer as he left the room.

“I thanked for successful five years in office and whoever comes to government may it serve the country and the people selflessly,” he said.

Tshering Palden