Nation goes to polls today

More than 3,000 candidates are contesting for various LG posts

Elections: Voters from 205 gewogs will cast ballots to elect gups, mangmis and tshogpas in the second local government (LG) elections today.

The polls will open from 9 am until 5 pm.

Samdrupjongkhar thromde will elect its second thrompon and thromde tshogpas, while 13 dzongkhag towns will elect a thromde ngotshab (town representative) each.

Bumthang, Dagana, Haa, Lhuentse, Paro, Punakha, Samtse, Trashigang, Trashiyangtse, Trongsa, Tsirang, Wangdue and Zhemgang will see election of thromde ngotshabs. The three dzongkhags of Gasa, Mongar and Pemagatshel do not have thromde ngotshab candidates.

No elections of tshogpa will be held in 40 chiwogs as they do not have candidates.

In view of their significant power to run local administration and to implement plans for socio-economic development, the local government bodies in terms of functions are considered important.

The first local government elections were held in 2011.

To enable the electorate to make an informed choice as well as to facilitate candidates to present their manifestoes to the electorate, common forums were taken right up to the chiwog level throughout the country.

A total of 1,014 common forums were held in 205 gewogs and 13 dzongkhag throms, including Samdrupjongkhar thromde, from September 5 to 21. According to the Election Commission of Bhutan (ECB), 39,629 people attended the forums.

A total of 3,402 candidates addressed the common forum. Due to roadblock in Goenshari gewog of Punakha and on medical grounds, 30 candidates did not attend the common forums.

After the scrutiny process, there were 606 gup candidates, out of which 27 were female and 579 male. For the post of mangmi, 673 candidates got through the scrutiny process.

A public debate for the thrompon candidates of the Samdrupjongkhar thromde was organised on September 17.

As per the election Act, the ECB has declared today a public holiday in all 20 dzongkhags except in the three thromdes of Thimphu, Phuentsholing and Gelephu. All offices and business entities, except hotels, will remain closed.

The “no campaign period”, which started from 9 am on September 25 will remain till the closure of the polls. During this period, no one is allowed to publish, broadcast, or transmit any item that is in the nature of election campaign supporting or opposing any candidate in any media.

People have also been asked not to organise any public event that might likely sway voters in favour or against a candidate.

According to the final electoral role released by the ECB, there are a total of 402,089 people eligible to cast ballots today, out of which 205,219 are female and 196,870 male.

Out of the total registered voters in the country, 78,218 have registered as postal voters.

A record number of 150 university graduates are contesting this LG election.

MB Subba

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