There are now 83 days left for Bhutan to get the third National Council (NC) constituted.

The first session of the current NC was held on May 10, 2013, and accordingly its terms will expire on May 9.

Article 24(5) of the Constitution states that the new NC must be constituted on the date of expiry of the term as it is a continuous house. This means that the NC must be reconstituted on May 10 with a first sitting.

However, the Election Commission of Bhutan (ECB) has yet to notify the election dates to put the election process in motion. The election process begins with the ECB formally issuing a notification calling the election.

ECB officials said the commission would issue the notification at the earliest. No details were provided.

The Election Act states that there should be 90 days between the date of issue of the notification and the expiry of the NC’s term.

The tenure of the NC starts from the first sitting, where it elects a Chairperson and a Deputy Chairperson. The incumbent Chairperson, Sonam Kinga (PhD) and Deputy Chairperson Tshering Dorji were elected on May 10, 2013.

Meanwhile, the ECB is currently conducting awareness programmes on postal ballot facilities in school and institutes. The ECB says it is expecting more voter turnout in the upcoming elections than what was observed in 2013.

The ECB has already issued public advisories to avoid the periods of February to May for any programmes and activities that involve public gathering.

However, the ECB in an earlier interview with Kuensel stated that it would allow some unavoidable events such as technical and international meetings on a case-by-case basis.

The commission stated it would ensure that no political parties or candidates would be involved in those permitted events and that they would not be used in any way for electoral gains

MB Subba