In doing so, the DT will write to Parliament, ECB and DLG

LG: Given inconsistencies in the Acts, Paro Dzongkhag Tshogdu (DT) will seek clarification from Parliament, Election Commission of Bhutan and the Department of Local Government (DLG) on the confusion over local government election related issues.

The DT yesterday decided to seek clarification on whether local leaders are allowed to re-contest while still in office. The tshogdu will also enquire if local leaders will have to complete the five-year term.

Clarification on whether local leaders would be entitled to their benefits should they resign before their term expires will also be sought.

DT chairman, Lamgong Gup Phub Tshering said the local leaders had their own interpretation of the Acts. Some of them are of the opinion that they should resign a month early. Others believe they should resign two months before completing their term.

“If the local leaders resign before their term, it could also mean refunding the election expenditure as DLG indicated in the past,” he said. Local leaders resigning for reasons not cited in the Local Government (LG) Act before their term could also contravene the existing Act.

Gup Phub Tshering said that even if the upcoming election is conducted based on the LG Act which states that elected local leaders are supposed to convene their respective first sitting within 30 days after the declaration of election results, it was still confusing.

For instance, he said for Lamgong gewog the first sitting of the geowg tshogde was held in September 2011. “Similarly, the first sitting dates differ for every gewog,” he said.

Lamgong Mangmi Gyem Tshering said lack of clarity on the procedures has left many local leaders vying for a second term clueless.

“Should incumbent members re-contest, the resignation procedures are unclear,” he said.

With elections nearing, Gyem Tshering said that proper information would benefit all the aspiring candidates.

Explaining the procedure, the dzongkhag electoral officer said that he had informed the officials in Thimphu including the commissioners on the issue.

While he agreed that it was an issue of lack of clarity of laws, he said elections would be conducted as per the LG Act 2014 which states that elected local leaders are supposed to convene their respective first sitting within 30 days after the declaration of election results.

“Those who wish to re-contest have to resign after the ECB issues the notification calling elections,” he said, reading out ECB’s May 16 notification.

Paro Dzongrab Kinley Gyeltshen said resignation procedures were clearly stated in the LG Act. He said the tshogpa and mangmis submit their resignation to their gups while the gups submit their resignation to the DT chairman. Should the DT chairman resign, he submits his resignation to the deputy chairman.

“With regard to benefits, the DLG should be consulted,” he said.

Naja gewog’s mangmi highlighted the issue of local leaders elected through bye-elections. Citing his own case, he said he was elected in 2013 after the former mangmi resigned.

“What happens in my case, do I get to continue my term or does my term complete with the dissolution of the LG?” he asked.

The dzongkhag election officer clarified that his term completes with the dissolution of the local government.

Inconsistencies in the Constitution, LG and election Acts has led to confusion among the local leaders across the country. Article 22, section 21, of the Constitution prescribes that a local government will continue for five years unless dissolved prematurely. The election Act, however, states that a Local Government should be reconstituted on the date of expiry.

In such a case, should a dispute arise given such inconsistencies, the provisions of the Constitution will prevail. Any provision of a law that is inconsistent with the Constitution is null and void.

The LG entitlement Act states that a member retiring on completion of his or her term of office shall be entitled to gratuity. However, no gratuity shall be payable if a member retires before the completion of his or her term or if his or her service is terminated, it states.

Kinga Dema | Paro