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Press Release on resolution of Dispute Settlement of Zhemgang

The Election Commission of Bhutan would like to inform the general public that only a single complaint has been received so far in relation to the National Council Elections 2013. Three anonymous letters were received but could not be entertained as they were not in accordance with Rule 9.3.4 and 9.4 of the Election Dispute Settlement Rules and Regulations of the Kingdom of Bhutan, 2013.

The Complaint from Pantang village, Phangkhar Gewog was filed to the Zhemgang Election Dispute Settlement Body by Dorji Chorten on 26th of March 2013, against the other nominee of the said Gewog, Ugyen Chophel on the grounds of his relatives conducting Zhingdrup on 3rd/4th / 8th of March 2013; free ferrying of people of the locality; and doubt that late start and closing of Zomdu in Redijong affected the overall Zomdu results.

The Zhemgang Dzongkhag Election Dispute Settlement Body (DEDSB) dismissed the case on 28th of March 2013 based on its conclusion that the Zhingdrup was an annual event; ferrying free of charge was before the election period and this is a remote area with not much transportation facilities and the Zomdu started late due to no voters turning up at the assigned time of 9:00 a.m. and the Team had permission of the Chief Election Coordinator and Dzongkhag Electoral Officer to start later after the voters turn up.

On 1st of April 2013, the Complainant appealed to the Central Election Dispute Settlement Body (CEDSB) which reviewed the case and conducted a hearing on 7th of April 2013 at which both the Parties were given opportunity to be heard. The CEDSB found no evidence to conclude that the Zhingdrup favoured Ugyen Chophel’s electoral prospects or that the religious event, with the public Tshe-wang being attended by both Dorji Chorten and Ugyen Chophel, was used for any kind of electioneering. However the Zhingdrup, although found to have not been a new event, did not have the prior permission of the electoral or local authorities in direct violation of Notification i.e. ECB/CEC-Notif/2012/425 dated 1st of October 2012 issued by the Election Commission of Bhutan. Therefore the CEDSB decided that the patrons, Tshendrula and wife Wangmo and Sonam Rinchen and wife Ugyen Lhamo were imposed penalty and issued warning in accordance with Rule 29.1.1 of the Election Dispute Settlement Rules and Regulations of the Kingdom of Bhutan, 2013.

On the charges of ferrying and delay in starting and closing of the Zomdu at Redijong the CEDSB upheld the decision of the DEDSB and the additional point of gathering and feasting in Mamong Trong was dismissed for lack of any direct or substantive evidence.

The CEDSB found that Ugyen Chophel, Candidate from Phangkar Gewog, had reported to the Dzongkhag but had not sought formal written permission for his introductory tour, required as per Notification No.: ECB/CEC-Notif/2013/2286 dated 4th of February 2013, for which it was decided to issue a warning to him.

The Appellant appealed to the Commission against the decision of the CEDSB.

The Commission, presided by Chief Election Commissioner, as per Rule 21.3 of Election Dispute Settlement Rules and Regulations of Kingdom of Bhutan, 2013 heard both Parties on 15th of April 2013.

The issues were thoroughly deliberated. Based on all relevant facts and submissions the Commission upheld the decision of the Central Election Dispute Settlement Body with no change.

Legal Unit

Election Commission of Bhutan

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