LG: Khamey gup-elect Kuenley Penjore assumed office earlier this month, more than four months after wining the local government election in September.

Despite being elected, Kuenley Penjore could not take office after an election related court case his opponent Karma Tshering filed with the Gasa dzongkhag court following the election.

The gup-elect said after being selected as a gup candidate in the chiwog zomdu and prior to local government election, the election commission had written to him stating that he was a registered member of the political party, Bhutan Kuen-Nyam Party (BKP), and therefore could not contest for the post.

Following the letter, he said he approached the commission in Thimphu and pointed out that he was not a registered member of BKP.

The commission then inspected records with the party and found that a party worker has registered Kuenley Penjore with BKP in May 2013 as a candidate but he was not nominated as he did not have a university degree.

Following their findings, the election commission allowed Kuenley Penjore to contest the local government election. He won the election against his opponent Karma Tshering, the former gup of Khamey gewog.

However, Karma could not take office as Karma Tsheirng then filed an election dispute case against the election commission with the Gasa dzongkhag court alleging that gup-elect Kuenley Penjore was reflected as a registered BKP member when he submitted his nomination as a candidate for the gup post.

Kuenley Penjore said the dzongkhag court had passed a judgment stating that he was a member of BKP when he filed his nomination for the local government elections. To contest in the local government election, he first had to deregister from the political party.

“I then appealed with the High Court, during which the election commission presented their findings,” Kuenley Penjore said. He added that he won the dispute case in the High Court in December last year, and assumed office on January 3.

According to election officials, BKP also admitted the error on its part for not deleting Kuenley Penjore’s name from the membership list and even reported to the election commission that he had neither paid membership fees nor attended any meetings.

Kuenley Penjore said that amid the disputes and court cases, he has not received any salary nor has he been able to work for the gewog. He also missed the Dhar ceremony of the gups. Kuenley Penjore is not sure whether he will be paid for the last three months after being elected as the gewog’s gup.

“I did not earn anything in the last five months after contesting as a local leader in August till the end of the election dispute in December,” said Kuenley Penjore.

Dawa Gyelmo | Gasa