ECB is headed for a busy year ahead

Yearender/Election: It was a busy year for those engaged in elections in the year of the Sheep.

Besides the bye-elections, the year saw four Thrompon elected in the thromdes of Thimphu, Phuentsholing and Gelephu.

While Thimphu re-elected Kinlay Dorjee, the other two thromdes chose new thrompons. Gelephu elected Tikaram Kaflay, a former engineer as their new thrompon, while Phuentsholing elected a businessman, Uttar Kumar Rai.

The elections went smoothly even after disqualifying a candidate at the eleventh hour, but a concern among the observers was the poor voter turn out, especially in the capital city’s election. Voter turnout dropped by 13.5 percent from the last election in 2011.

The overall voter turnout for the three thromdes in the recent elections was 37.25 percent.

The Election Commission of Bhutan also witnessed continuity ensured as they gear for the local government (LG) elections in all the 20 dzongkhags with for commissioner Chogyal Dago Rigdzin becoming the Chief Election Commissioner and commissioners Deki Pema continuing as one of the two commissioners. Commissioner Ugyen Chewang was the only outsider the in the new set up.

With the declaration of thromdes in all dzongkhags, the ECB has cleared them for elections. However, after repeated petitions from the people against the thromde boundary, the Paro thromde will be reviewed again by the Parliament in its upcoming session though its delimitation has been completed and the thromde’s boundary could change.

Earlier last year, the Constitution of the Bhutan Children’s Parliament (BCP) was signed at the Punakha Dzong on June 2, a milestone for the ECB in the year of the Sheep. The signing subsequently led to the election of student members to the first ever children’s parliament on September 12.

The first session of the children’s parliament held in the Great Fourth Auditorium of Democracy House in Kawangjangsa, Thimphu, commenced on January 4 and concluded on January 8. The parliament, henceforth, will meet twice yearly to discuss issues of common concern.

Through the parliament, children and youth will be able to submit their proceedings to the Prime Minister, Speaker of the National Assembly and the Opposition Leader.

The children’s parliament comprises a National Assembly (NA) and National Council (NC) with the constituencies mirroring the electoral boundaries of the real houses of Parliament. Children, according to the Constitution of the BCP, include all school going children, trainees and degree college students who are not older than twenty-four years.

More elections

With the first phase of the second thromde elections completed in January, the ECB is headed for a busy year ahead. Aspiring candidates to contest the upcoming thromde elections should also get ready for a busy new year at the polls.

The 2016 LG elections will be held in four phases, and the second phase will be held in June. The second phase, scheduled in June, will see elections in all dzongkhags, except in 10 gewogs.

Elections in five gewogs of Chumey (Bumthang), Phuentsholing (Chukha), Goenshari (Punakha), Sang-Nga-Chholing (Samtse) and Mendrelgang in Tsirang will be conducted in the third phase in July.

The final and fourth phase will see elections in the five gewogs of Bjabchhog and Doongna in Chhukha and Samkhar, Bartsham and Udzorong gewogs in Trashigang in November.

To identify and motivate potential candidates, a fresh round of functional literacy test (FLT) will be held across the country in April.

MB Subba