The Election Commission of Bhutan would like to inform the general public on the cases related to the Primary Round Campaign Period, in addition to the seven cases reported earlier, which have been resolved as follows:
Case # 3: Statement by the President of the People’s Democratic Party
On the allegation of bribery by the DPT Candidate-designate in Jenkana village, Sama Gewog, Haa Dzongkhag as lodged by Sonam Dawa and stated to the media by the PDP President, statements were taken from all concerned including the Haa Dzongrab, Dago Tsheringla, Ap Rinzin and Sonam Dawa. The allegation was found to be baseless as there is no clear evidence or witness to substantiate the allegation and prove it. Therefore the alleged had to be given the benefit of the doubt with the amount under question being forfeit. Although the allegation did not have sufficient evidence, the Statement by the PDP President was not taken as an irresponsible comment as the complaint had been formally filed with the Haa Dzongkhag Electoral Authorities. The Commission also reminded the Dzongkhag Election Dispute Settlement Body to exercise due diligence in handling the complaints lodged with it.
Case # 8: Allegation of Bribery lodged by the People’s Democratic Party against the Druk Phuensum Tshogpa Candidate-Designate of Jomotshangkha_Martshala
On the allegation of bribery (clothes) lodged by the PDP against the DPT Candidate-Designate of Jomotshangkha_Martshala, Norbu Wangzom, statements were taken from all concerned including the complainant PDP’s village coordinator Tan Dorji, the alleged Norbu Wangzom, recipients Taumo, Tshewang Edon and Lungten Tshering, witnesses Lhundup Tshering and Sherab, Gem Lhamo who sent the clothes and Namgang and Khamsang who distributed them. It was found that Gem Lhamo had sent the clothes through Norbu Wangzom to be given to destitute as had also been done previously in the past. The recipients were not briefed on the Party or who was giving the clothes. However, the Commission found that it was gross negligence and carelessness on Norbu Wangzom’s part to have undertaken the delivery of the said goods and asking her supporters to distribute them during the Election period when she herself is campaigning as the representative and candidate-designate of a contesting Political Party. Therefore, Norbu Wangzom and the DPT, in view of its vicarious responsibility for its representative, are warned for the failure to be mindful during the Election Period.
Case # 9: Allegation Submitted by Druk Phuensum Tshogpa against Druk Nyamrup Tshogpa for Mass SMS
On the allegation submitted by DPT against DNT for sending mass SMS, it was found that SMSs had been sent out without the content receiving prior approval of the Commission as required under the Laws. The Commission, as the sending of mass SMSs during the Campaign Period is permissible and the contents were not objectionable but the Party had failed to observe due process of seeking prior approval of the campaign SMS, decided to publicly reprimand the Druk Nyamrup Tshogpa.
Case # 14: Druk Phuensum Tshogpa against social media violation of 48 hour ban
On the complaint filed by the DPT on violation of 48 hour ban on social media sites, the Commission in view of the importance of ensuring campaign embargo to provide voters with the space and time for reflection to make a clear decision on Poll Day, immediately issued a Public Notice warning those concerned that it is illegal and requiring them to immediately remove such contents.
The Commission is following up on four more cases at present pertaining to allegations of non-permitted public gathering in Tsirang, question on the distribution of free issues of the newspaper “The Bhutanese”, entertainment being provided at Party meeting in Punakha and campaign meeting beyond the permitted hours in Trashigang.
Election Commission of Bhutan
29th of May 2013