The Royal Bhutan Police (RBP) has said it is prepared to ensure security in the upcoming National Assembly elections, the dates for which are expected soon.

“We are prepared (in terms of security arrangement for the election),” chief election security coordinator Colonel Pasang Dorji said. Officials on election duty, including returning officers, he said have been briefed on security for the upcoming election.

Pasang Dorji said the RBP would rectify lapses, if there were any, from the April National Council elections. “We will provide whatever is required from our side,” he said, adding that more than 2,500 police personnel will be deployed for election duty.

As per the security protocol, the prime minister and ministers of the outgoing government are eligible for personal security officers (PSOs) during the election period. The opposition leader is also entitled for the same.

Except for the outgoing prime minister, their security cover will be lifted after 14 days from the official announcement of the results of primary round if both the outgoing ruling party and opposition do not make it to the general election.

The outgoing prime minister will also be given a front escort vehicle.

All the party presidents will also be provided security coverage during elections.

But the security coverage of the presidents that are eliminated will be lifted after the announcement of the primary results.

However, any of the party presidents or the outgoing ministers not wishing to avail security coverage can write to the law and order department, according to an official. RBP would then implement the instruction of the department.

Head of the election department and media spokesperson with the election commission, Sonam Tobgay, said that except for former members of the outgoing cabinet and party presidents, all candidates do not need security coverage. “If at all they do, it should be provided on a need basis,” he said.

Home minister Dawa Gyaltshen, said that Bhutan enjoys harmony and unity and that candidates can play an important role in maintaining it.

“There was no personal threat in the 2013 election and we are always with the people,” he said. “ In Chhukha, we (candidates from different parties) ate and slept in the same house.”

DPT spokesperson and candidate from Panbang, Dorji Wangdi, said that he does not see the need to provide security for all the candidates, except for the presidents. He said that he was provided security coverage during the whole election period in 2013.

The Druk Nyamrup Tshogpa candidate from Trongsa’s Nubi-Tangsibji constituency, Yeshey Penjor, said it would be costly for the nation to provide security coverage for candidates and that it would set a bad precedent.

He was of the view that all the candidates would enjoy an equal level play field if the outgoing cabinet members give up their security coverage.

Bhutan Kuen-Nyam Party spokesperson Sonam Tobgay said Bhutan is a safe place and that the party does not see a need to have such arrangements.

MB Subba