Nima Wangdi  

Royal Audit Authority (RAA) yesterday reinstated audit clearances for the nine local government candidates whose clearances were revoked last month disqualifying them from participating in the local government elections.

RAA’s Deputy Auditor General, Minjur Dorji said the authority reinstated audit clearances for the candidates following a letter from Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) yesterday morning.

The lone Soe Gup candidate, Kencho Dorjee said he was happy with the turn of events. “I was worried that I might miss it.”

Kencho Dorjee said that the voters have missed postal ballots.  “I would be grateful if the Election Commission of Bhutan (ECB) could reissue postal ballots with our names. For me, it should not be a serious problem even if they do not,” he said.

He said that he was unhappy when his audit clearance was revoked owing to a complaint from some people to ACC out of personal grudge. “It was unfair when we have not done anything wrong,” he said.

Dangchu Gup Candidate, Pemba said he received a call from RAA saying that his audit clearance had been reinstated. “I have missed dhamngoi zomdu but I can make it up since I have got the opportunity to contest.”

He said all nine of them are meeting election commission officials today.

Anti-Corruption Commission had written to RAA informing the authority that there were corruption cases reported against the individuals late last month. RAA wrote to ECB and the candidates were disqualified.

The disqualified candidates were Kaka, the Lunana Gup candidate in Gasa, Punakha’s Guma gup candidate Ugyen Khandu, Trongsa’s Korphu gup candidate Sangay Khandu, Soe Gup candidate Kencho Dorji in Thimphu, Chukha’s Chapcha gup candidate Tobgay, Nyisho gup candidate Phurpa Dorji in Wangdue, Dhangchu gup candidate Pemba in Wangdue, Korphu Mangimi candidate Yeshi Nidup, and Punakha’s Changyul tshogpa candidate Namgay Bidha.

Seven of the nine local leader candidates, whose audit clearances were revoked, appealed to the High Court on November 29.  However, the court dismissed their plea saying that the court does not have jurisdiction to question the legality of any decision taken or given by the election commission.

The disqualified candidates argued by citing Article seven, clause 16 on fundamental rights. The clause states that a person charged for a penal offence has the right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty in accordance with the law.

Korphu Gup candidate Sangay Khandu and mangmi candidate could not make it to the court to submit their petition.

When audit clearances of these candidates were revoked without explaining the details of the cases registered against them, some 30 people from Guma gewog in Punakha came to the ACC office seeking clarification on the case of their gup candidate. They returned home after ACC refused to share the case details.