NA elects speaker, deputy from ruling party
The National Assembly (NA) met at 10-am on 31 October for the Speaker and Deputy Speaker elections in the parliament house. The first sitting only came to an end after swearing-in ceremony administered by the Chief Justice Tshering Wangchuk as per Third Schedule of the Constitution of The Kingdom of Bhutan on Oath or Affirmation of Office.
While for the speaker, ruling party nominated Wangchuk Namgyel from Nyisho-Sephu constituency and he faced opposition candidate Ugyen Wangdi from Drametse_ Ngatshang. Wangchuck Namgyel swears oath as a speaker after he was elected to the post with 30 votes. Ugyen Wangdi, meanwhile, received 17 of the total 47 votes that were cast.
Tshencho Wangdi from Kabji-Talo in ruling party was up against opposition party's nominee Karma Wangchuk from Chumig-Ura, who re- ceived 16 votes. Tshencho Wangdi secured 31 votes and became the new deputy speaker of the house.
On the other hand, the house completely voted along party lines. There should have the support from both ruling and opposition benches. The ruling party has the backing of 30 MPs while opposition has the strength of 17 members in the lower house of the parliament.
The speakers were elected member of the NA for first time and before coming into the house, they were picked by the party to contest elections on the seat of Speaker and Deputy Speaker. The speakers should establish neutrality while running the proceedings of the house.
Ugyen Wangdi, 46, the senior parliamentarian in the NA was part of lower house of the parliament over 10 years while Wangchuk Namgyel, 56, has worked in the education ministry for 27 years. Tshencho Wangdi, 33, is a former teacher and travel consultant while Karma Wangchuk, 48, worked as a drungtsho since 1998.
Earlier at the press conference in Thimphu, Druk Nyamrup Tshogpa's (DNT) spokesperson and member-elect, Dr Tandi Dorji, said to set examples, DNT was considering whether to give Dy. Speaker post to the Opposition. He said, “This is the very good start that the opposition submits their candidates.”
Dr Tandi Dorji said the ruling party's gesture towards the opposition is to bring unity and harmony, and avoid divisive politics. “We are hoping that we could work very implacably with them,” he said, “We would like to make the process most simple and more convenient, conducive and less divisive.”
The ruling party during its initial meeting with the NA secretariat asked to file the candidates from the opposition for the slots. According to the procedure, Dr Tandi Dorji, said the opposition also should file the candidate. He said, “Unlike in the past, we discussed with the NA Secretariat and requested to ask whether opposition leader would file their candidates.”
Normally, nomination of the candidate takes place in the parliament. Dr Tandi Dorji said, “Since the opposition has submitted the list, we also submitted our candidates to the NA Secretariat.”
The nomination must be seconded by another member and accompanied by a nominee statement that he or she is willing to serve as the Speaker. Although the winning party normally nominates a candidate, any member may submit a nomination of a member for the post of the Speaker.
Dr Tandi Dorji said his team is grateful to be forming the government. He said, “We are also very happy to know that we are going to be working with an experienced opposition.”
The Opposition party has been part of lower house of the parliament over 10 years as a ruling party in the first tenure and represented opposition in the second term.
The first sitting of the National Assembly also began with the offering of Ku-Sung-Thugten into the house as a symbolic representation of His Majesty the King.
Shortly after the secretary general read out the Kasho from His Majesty the King, the parliament members clad their new blue ‘Namza' and put on pathang/gyentag in the house.
The members took the necessary Oath of Affirmation of the Office before the Chief Justice as per the Schedule of The Constitution of the Kingdom of Bhutan.
A day prior to the elections of speaker, the members-elect of the third National Assembly presented their certificates of election issued by Election Commission to the Secretary General of the National Assembly. The secretary general also briefed the MP select on the first sitting and informed about the procedures.
The Members of the Parliament of the third National Assembly formally took office and elected the speaker and the deputy speaker on 31 October in the Parliament house in Thimphu.