The Election Commission of Bhutan calls the Second Local Government Elections, today, 9th of August 2016 with due respect to the Supreme Court of Bhutan’s Writ No.: Ngoentho (54)/2016/1561 dated 5th of August 2016.
The Writ states that as per Article 1(11) of the Constitution of the Kingdom of Bhutan “The Supreme Court shall be the Guardian of this Constitution and the final Authority on its interpretation” and Article 21(10)provides that “The Supreme Court and the High Court may issue such declarations, orders, directions or writs as may be appropriate in the circumstances of each case” and accordingly outlines the issues and three specific Orders for execution.
The deferment of the Second Local Government Elections 2016 was done in view of the genuine concerns about the tenure of Local Governments, highlighted by various Democratic Institutions including the Dzongkhag Tshogdus and agencies responsible for Local Governments as notified vide letter number ECB/Notif-2016/4241 dated 4th of June 2016.
The three Orders that the ECB is executing include:
- Deferring of the Elections to the 16 Dzongkhag Thromdes and 20 Yenlag Thromdes until issues are reviewed by a Legal Experts Commission;
- Nullification of the elections of the three Thromde Thuemi of Thimphu, Phuentshogling and Gelegphu Dzongkhag Thromdes; and
- As the tenure of the Local Governments completed on 28th of July 2016, the elections in 205 Gewogs and Samdrup Jongkhar Dzongkhag Thromdeto be conducted as notified today.
To briefly inform the general public on the preparatory activities carried out by the Election Commission of Bhutan for the Second Local Government Elections 2016:
Two rounds of E-Roll Verification was done right at the Chiwog Level in all the 20 Dzongkhags. The Election Commission of Bhutan also notified the general public on the Draft Electoral Roll and Postal Voters List for the Second Phase of the Local Government Elections 2016 for public inspection and filing of Claims and Objections.
The ECB conducted Training of Trainers for Senior Dzongkhag, Dungkhag and Gewog Officials on the Election Procedures and Electoral Processes. These officials have carried out two rounds of trainings right at the Chiwog Level.
The comprehensive voter education and training programme, the Bhutan Electoral Education and Training Strategy(BEETS)for Local Government Elections 2016 was carried out in all the Dzongkhags to prepare the voters to take part in the Elections effectively. Particular focus was given to ensure voters are well aware of their Demkhongs where they will be voting or standing as a Candidate.
Awareness programme for the eligible postal voter and their registration was done with concerned agencies. All postal voters are being notified and informed to take careful note of the Schedule for the Local Government Election Schedule which has been issued and ensure that their Postal Ballots are marked properly and on time.
The Functional Literacy Test Certificate is an important document to contest for the Local Government Elections therefore, the Election Commission of Bhutan having received many applications for Functional Literacy and Possession of Skills Test (FLT) from the Dzongkhags for Local Government Election, 2016, facilitated the interested candidates by conducting three rounds of Functional Literacy Test for the Second Local Government Elections.
To be able to handle and settle dispute, during the Election Period, in a competent, just and legally correct manner, election dispute settlement trainings have been conducted for the various officials of all 20 Dzongkhags.
,Three batches of training for Returning Officers and National Observers who shall be vested with the authority, roles and responsibilities as per the provisions in the Electoral laws, Rules, Regulations for the Local Government Elections 2016 were carried out to ensure the proper conduct of free and fair elections to Local Governments.
All the voters are urged to participate 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.
Similarly, after the 2nd Parliament endorsed the 16 Dzongkhag Thromdes the comprehensive delimitation process was carried out as per the Laws and the Draft Delimitation Plan was issued for public opinion and public hearings conducted before the Final Delimitation Order issued on 15th July 2015.
The historic Second Local Government Elections 2016 is coinciding with the three auspicious national events. Therefore, to mark this most special year and to pay tribute, we urge all voters to participate in the Second Local Government Elections, 2016 actively.
The Election Commission of Bhutan is confident that the Second Local Government Elections will be completed successfully and the Local Governments will be established in the best interests of the People of Bhutan as envisioned in the Drugi Tsathrim Chenmo.
Chief Election Commissioner of Bhutan