Representatives of the four political parties in Haa’s Sombaykha constituency have requested the Election Commission of Bhutan (ECB) to cancel the common forum in Ngetsena that was scheduled for today, citing roadblocks and swollen streams.

While at least one common forum in every gewog is a must, political parties or candidates can choose not to have common forums at the chiwog level.

If the ECB accepts their request, the candidates and party representatives will attend a common forum in Sombayama chiwog tomorrow as per the schedule. There are three gewogs – Sangbay, Gakiling and Samar, and 15 chiwogs in the constituency.

Common forums provide an equal and cost-effective opportunity to political parties to address the electorate at a pre-determined time and pre-designated venue. Common forums also reduce the need for separate meetings or door-to-door campaigning.

The ECB’s head of the election department, Sonam Tobgay, said that the commission would take a decision based on the genuineness of the request.

He said that the request, which was signed by all the four representatives, reached the ECB head office in Thimphu yesterday afternoon.

DNT’s candidate, Dorjee Wangmo, said: “Vehicles would not be able to pass the roadblock. We could not even pass the cross on foot. The representatives of all four parties in the chiwog in presence of election officials signed an agreement saying that they would not be able to have a common forum.”

PDP president Tshering Tobgay and BKP’s Sonam Wangmo are represented by party members in the common forums. PDP president is on a campaign trail outside Haa and Sonam Wangmo has a baby.

DPT’s Tshewang Rinzin said: “If we get stuck in one chiwog due to roadblock and swelling rivers, we will miss common forums in other chiwogs.”

Common forums in the constituency ends on September 2. Returning Officer finalises the common forum schedule.

MB Subba