The National Assembly yesterday elected Wangchuk Namgyel from the ruling party, Druk Nyamrup Tshogpa (DNT) as the Speaker as the Members of Parliament voted along party lines.

Wangchuk Namgyel, 55, from Wangdue’s Nyishog-Saephu constituency secured 30 votes, exactly the number of seats DNT commands in the 47-member House. He beat Druk Phuensum Tshogpa (DPT) candidate Ugyen Wangdi, from Drametsi-Ngatshang constituency in Mongar who secured 17 votes.

Thirty-four-year-old Tshencho Wangdi, also from DNT, from Kabisa-Talog constituency in Punakha secured 31 votes to be elected the Deputy Speaker. DPT’s candidate for the post, Karma Wangchuk from Bumthang’s Chumi-Ura constituency secured 16 votes although his party has 17 seats in the House.

Speaker-elect Wangchuk Namgyel said he was honoured with the responsibility of Speaker given to him. “I shall uphold the Constitution and serve with full dedication and loyalty,” he said.

Tshencho Wangdi was not available for comment after his election to the post of Deputy Speaker.

The Opposition had nominated its candidates for the first time given the non-partisan nature of the post of the Speaker. DNT had said that the party had invited nominations from the Opposition although it made little sense since DNT had its own candidates.

DNT had claimed that it had encouraged nominations from the Opposition, saying that the party wanted to ease divisive politics. It was learnt that most of the DNT MPs wanted to keep both the posts although informal talks about the possibility of giving the post of Deputy Speaker to the Opposition party had ensued.

Wangchuk Namgyel has worked in the education ministry for 27 years. He has a PGDE and a Masters in History.

Tshencho Wangdi is a former travel consultant and businessman. He has an MA in International Relations.

The Druk Gyalpo shall, by warrant under His hand and seal, confer Dakyen to the Speaker. 

Ugyen Wangdi said that his experience in law and Parliament made him a suitable candidate for the post of Speaker. The two-time MP had promised to be non-partisan before the vote.

Karma Wangchuk had promised to wok as Deputy Speaker with great interest without favouring any sides.

The National Assembly secretary general Sangay Duba welcomed the new members and called the event historic.

DNT entered the National Assembly for the first time by winning 30 seats and 54 percent of the total popular votes in the general election last month. The party had won 17 percent of the votes in the 2013 primaries and could not make it to the general election.

The first sitting of the third National Assembly began with the offering of Ku-Sung-Thugten as a symbolic representation of His Majesty The King. The new government’s five year term began yesterday.

The secretary general read out the Kasho from the Druk Gyalpo, calling the first sitting. The parliament members who had entered the House in their regualr kabneys wore the blue scarf and patag inside the House. Women MPs wore the blue rachu and gyentag.

Chief Justice Tshering Wangchuk administered the Oath or Affirmation of Office as per the Third Schedule of the Constitution of the Kingdom of Bhutan.

MB Subba