Second LG election on 27 September
The Election Commission of Bhutan (ECB) has called for the second Local Government (LG) elections on 27 September.
The second LG elections 2016 were deferred by a month in view of the genuine concerns about the tenure of LGs highlighted by various democratic institutions, including the Dzongkhag Tshogdus and agencies responsible for Local Governments.
The elections in 205 gewogs of the twenty dzongkhags, and Samdrup Jongkhar Dzongkhag Thromde will be conducted in accordance with the writ issued by the Supreme Court of Bhutan last week. According to the ECB, the tenure of the LGs had completed on 28 July 2016.
The Chief Election Commissioner (CEC), Chogyal Dago Rigdzin, said, “The ECB is confident that the second LG elections will be completed successfully and the LGs will be established in the best interests of the people of Bhutan as envisioned in the Drugi Tsathrim Chenmo [constitution].”
The Supreme Court’s writ ordered the ECB to defer the elections to the 16 Dzongkhag Thromdes and 20 Yenlag Thromdes until issues are reviewed by a committee of legal experts. The writ also asked for the removal of the post of Thromde Thuemis of Thimphu, Phuentsholing and Gel- ephu.
The Supreme Court has ordered the abolishment of the post of thromde thuemi of Samdrupjongkhar. However, the election for the post of thrompon and thromde tshogde tshogpas will be held.
The CEC said that two rounds of E-Roll Verification were done right at the chiwog level in all the 20 dzongkhags.
ECB has carried out the preparatory activities and has conducted train- ing of trainers for senior dzongkhag, dungkhag and gewog officials on the election procedures and electoral processes. ECB officials said the officials have carried out two rounds of training right at the chiwog level.
The comprehensive voter education and training programme, the Bhutan Electoral Education and Training Strategy
(BEETS) for LG elections, was carried out in all the dzongkhags to prepare the voters to take part in the elections effectively. A particular focus was given to ensure that the voters are well aware of their demkhongs where they will be voting or standing as a candidate.
An awareness programme for the eligible postal voter and their registration was carried out for agencies concerned. All postal voters are being notified and informed to take careful note of the schedule for the LG election which has been issued and to ensure that their postal ballots are marked properly and on time.
The Functional Literacy Test (FLT) certificate is an important document to contest for the LG elections. Therefore, the ECB having received many applications for FLT from the dzongkhags for LG election facilitated the interested candidates by conducting three rounds of FLT for the second LG elections.
The CEC said, “As the FLT was conducted at chiwog and gewog basis, there has been more than thousands of women candidates who were participated in the FLT for the LG.” he added, “That shows the double interest than first LG elections.”
To be able to handle and settle dispute during the election period in a competent, just and legally correct manner, election dispute settlement training has been conducted for the various officials of all 20 dzongkhags.
Training has been conducted for three batches of returning officers and national observers who will be vested with the author- ity, roles and responsibilities as per the provisions in the electoral laws, rules and regulations for the LG elections. The training is expected to facilitate proper conduct of free and fair elections to LG.
The nationwide zomdus for the selection of candidates for the post of gup and mangmi, and Samdrupjongkhar thromde was started on 10 August. The election campaigns will begin on 3 September and continue until 25 September.
The zomdu were called by the dzongkhag electoral authority for the purpose of selecting candidates to contest in the elections.
The ECB urges all voters to participate actively in the zomdu process in the chiwog when the nominee selection will take place and to indeed consider it as being an important event in the election process.
The CEC said at the press conference that the historic second LG election 2016 is coinciding with the three auspicious national events adding, “The birth year of the second Buddha Guru Padmasambhava, 400th anniversary of the arrival of Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal in Bhutan and the joyous birth of His Royal Highness Prince Jigme Namgyel Wangchuck.”