ECB receives 10 cases on related to the general election campaign period
Election Commission of Bhutan (ECB) had received 10 cases through the Election Dispute Settlement System in the general election campaign period. The six cases are in appeal period and four cases currently under process.
The Central Election Dispute Settlement Body (CEDSB) received the complaint on September 21. Tsagay and Kado lodged case against Thinley Wangdi and DNT’s candidate, Namgay Tshering.
After investigation, a hearing including attendance by two key witnesses was conducted on September 27, according to ECB.
The CEDSB’s investigation found out that Thinley Wangdi donated religious items to the Drakha Tsen Neykhang in installments before the Election Period starting from 2017.
However, there was no evidence to prove that it was for electoral gain. Similarly, Thinley Wangdi was alleged for the serving the drinks to the people whereas the proposed Wang programme had not been permitted and was not conducted in the Village.
The CEDSB fined the complainants for lodging the complaint without proper fact and findings and, causing disturbance to the small community and were required to bear the expenditure for the two witnesses who were asked to attend the hearing.
The case was appealed to the ECB who provided both parties the opportunity of a hearing and reviewed the additional submissions that were made.
The commission issued warning to the two key witnesses since they were found in providing different statement to the authorities and to the complainants, ECB states. CEDSB cancelled the payment of compensation for the two witnesses and ECB upheld the CEDSB’s decision to issue warning and fine two complainants the minimum wage for one month. According to ECB, the Public Election Fund Division will deal on the issue of Kado being in DPT’s membership list as submitted with the Letter of Intent, whereas Kado denied being a member or even registering as a member, and the possession of a temporary card issued by the DNT to Thinley Wangdi is to in due course of time.
Nidup Zangpo lodged the complaint against, DNT’s candidate, Yeshey Penjor for alleging that he had circulated a message on WeChat that Indian Support to Bhutan would be compromised if DPT was elected.
The Trongsa Dzongkhag Election Dispute Settlement Body (DEDSB) received the complaint on September 19. The investigation found that the respondent in violation of the legal provisions and issued a warning and imposed a fine of minimum wage for two months. There was no further appeal and case is closed, according to ECB
The Pema Gatshel DEDSB received the complaint from DNT member, Chimi Dorji against Sangay for allegedly threatening to kill him and DNT member, Ngawang Dorji on Spetember 25.
The investigation found out that Sangay had threatened under the influence of alcohol. However, the alleged threat to kill Chimi Dorji was a false statement, ECB states.
The DEDSB issued warning to Chimi Dorji and Dorji Wangchuk for spreading malicious information on social media and Sangay Dorji was warned for creating nuisance under the influence of alcohol. The case was closed with no further appeal.
The Office of Media Arbitrator (OMA) received the complaint lodged by DPT’s general secretary, Sangay Phurba against DNT’s coordinator of Punakha, Namgay Rinchen on alleging the spread of false news through social media, WeChat of on 2nd of October 2018.
According to ECB, the respondent accepted that he sent the WeChat message and he was issued a warning and imposed a fine of minimum wage for 30 days.
Dzongkhag Social Media Monitors are to be added in to both parties’ social media group to reduce similar kind of disputes in future. ECB states that the case is currently in the appeal period.
The Trashi Yangtse DEDSB received a complaint lodged by DPT’s coordinator against DNT’s member, Samten Wangdi for his WeChat statement on October 3. DEDSB warned and imposed a minimum wage for 30 days to the respondent. The case is in appeal period.
Samdrup Jhongkhar DEDSB received the complaint lodged by DPT’s coordinator, Tshering Dorji against PDP members; Tendi Zangpo, Tshering Dargey and Kezang Norbu alleging the respondents of undue influence and abetting disharmony on October 3.
The DEDSB found violation of Electoral Laws and imposed fine of minimum wage for thirty days for all the three respondents. The Body further reprimanded all the respondents not to spread false rumors and refrain from such comments during election period. The case is currently in the appeal period.
Khar-Yurung, Pema gatshel
The CEDSB received the complaint by DNT on statement and allegation by DPT’s Khar-Yurung candidate, Tshering Choden at the public debate on October 5. The allegations was involvement of retired armed force personnel in influencing people to vote for DNT. And the threat by black magic, investigated by police found by the Pema Gatshel DEDSB as being a baseless and a warning was issued to the informant Aum Phomey.
According to ECB, the candidate stated that the citizenship issue of fatherless children, including with non-national fathers, born to a Bhutanese mother is something that her party will solve and also alleged interference in the electoral process upon “Orders” from higher authorities on October 6 during the live public debate.
According to ECB, she was provided opportunity to be heard by the Chief Election Coordinator and the Returning Officer and her explanations were duly received by the election authorities.
DNT lodged a complaint against the candidate on her statement made in relation to “census” during the live public debate stating that it is a blatant act of undue influence; in violation of the Constitutional provision on Royal Prerogatives, the provision of the Election Act on Royal Patronage, undue influence and vilating the code of conduct besides not being in the paty manifesto on October 7.
The ECB, after thorough review and examination, decided to issue warning and impose a fine of the minimum wage for sixty days and restrain the candidate, her representative and party workers from campaigning for rest the of the campaigning period in the constituency to ensure that ill-will is not instigated in the community through misleading and divisive messages.
The samdrup Jhongkhar DEDSB received complaint lodged by DNT’s representative against DPT’s coordinator, Chhorten Tshering for allegation of threatening life and harassment on phone call on September 8. The case was dismissed as it was found not a Prima Facie Case. The case is currently in the appeal period.
Nganglam, Pema gatshel
The complaint lodged by DPT’s candidate, Choeda Jamtsho against PDP member, namsey Wangdi on his statement in WeChat on October 8. The DEDSB issued warning and imposed a penalty of the minimum wage of 30 days to Namsay Wangdi on October 9. The case is currently in appeal period.
Nanong-Shumar, Pema Gatshel
The complaint lodged by DNT members, Dorji Gyeltshen, Kinley Wangdi and Passang Dorji against Cheku Wangyel of Nanong-Shumar, Pema Gatshel for defamatory voice messages against DNT on October 1.The case is currently under appeal period.
According to the ECB also received complaint from the DNT’s general secretary on DPT’s candidate Ugyen Wangdi of Dramedtse-Ngatshang constitutuency, Mongar as per Rule 23.6 of the Election Dispute Settlement of Rules and Regulations of the Kingdom of
The case is publicly reprimanded under Rule 29.1.5 of the Election Dispute Settlement Rules and Regulations of the Kingdom of Bhutan, 2018, upon being found liable under Rule 31.2 of the Postal Ballot Rules and Regulations of the Kingdom of Bhutan, 2018 which provides that:
“Any person who makes or induces any other person to make a false statement in an application for a Postal Ballot Paper… shall be guilty of an offence pun- ishable under the Election Act.”
Regarding the management of social media by ECB, the OMA including the 20 Dzongkhag Social Media Monitors and 2 National Social Media Monitors, had found 15 Facebook posts objectionable by the monitors during primary round. According to ECB, three were removed by the originating social media users and four removed by the Facebook authorities while eight remained unresolved although taken up with Facebook authorities.
In the ongoing General Election, 22 Facebook posts were found objectionable of which four were removed by the originating user, six were removed by the Facebook authorities and 12 are under process and being followed up.
The 20 Social Media Monitors are in the various WeChat groups of the respective candidates, and coordinators as deterrent measure although it is a challenge to monitor all WeChat groups which is mushrooming for various purposes, ECB states.