The Election Commission of Bhutan (ECB), yesterday formally announced the approval of the registration of Druk Chirwang Tshogpa (DCT) and Bhutan Kuen-Nyam Party (BKP) as political parties.
This is following intensive consideration, review and resolutions by the ECB on the documents submitted by both parties.
Last month, the ECB had also asked the two aspiring political parties to re-submit their application for registration after the commission reviewed the papers and found that there was still some revision to be made and some information to be added in the application form.
The approvals were finalized during a special session of the ECB held on December 28, 2012. This was after having resolved 11 significant issues with DCT and 10 with BKP. Issues included revision of certain provisions in the party charters among others.
However, the notification from ECB states that the two new parties shall not be eligible to participate in the National Assembly (NA) elections 2013 including the primary round, unless their party charter and statement of accounts is submitted after being approved by their respective party conventions.
Both parties had submitted the above documents but they have to now be approved by a legal party convention as a matter of formality.
The parties in their statement of accounts have to have full details of the receipt of registration fees, membership fees and voluntary contributions demonstrating party sustainability.
The parties will also need to submit names of the members of the national executive committee of their party duly elected in the party convention in accordance with the party charter and electoral laws.
BKP, in addition, has to submit a complete list of registered members who shall be the candidate- designate of the party for the 47 constituencies during submission of the letter of intent.
BKP applied for registration with the ECB on October 30 while DCT submitted their application on November 1, both this year.
The two parties now become the third and fourth in line to register as a legal political party after the opposition, People’s Democratic Party and the incumbent Druk Phuensum Tshogpa had managed to clear their debts.
This will now take the total number of political parties in the country to four.
BKP was formed by a group of 253 registered voters with Sonam Tobgay as its interim president while DCT has been formed by a group of 233 registered voters with Bhutan media foundation (BMF) executive director Lily Wangchuk as their president.
Three political parties, BKP, DCT and Druk Nyamrup Tshogpa (DNT) applied for registration with the ECB between October-December 2012.
However, DNT’s application is still under review with the ECB. “Work is under progress right now and only upon completion of the work we will know whether DNT will be registered or not,” chief election commissioner Dasho Kunzang Wangdi said.
The reserved election symbol of DCT is a pictorial design of swan (Ngangpa) surging skyward from a lotus mount while BKP has the Kuen-Nyam Khorlo as its election symbol.
Meanwhile DCT President Lily Wangchuk welcomed the news of her parties’ registration. She said that in the next seven to 10 days DCT would have its party convention meeting to discuss and fulfill the remaining requirements put forth by the ECB.
She said that DCT had submitted 46 candidates since the Nanglam candidate had dropped out at the last moment.
“The candidates were tentative but now they will have to be finalized based on certain criteria,” said Lily.
She also said that the members of the National Executive Committee would be duly elected by the party and its manifesto would also be finalized.
BKP Interim Party Sonam Tobgay said, “First and foremost I would like to say that BKP securing a legal status is dedicated as a special New Year gift to the people of Bhutan.”
“We are humbled in being able to contribute in laying down a strong foundation for democracy. It is also a historical moment for Bhutan. The road ahead is neither short nor easy but it is a tough road ahead with more challenges,” added Sonam.
He also said that they would have the Party Convention soon to meet the few remaining requirements to take part in the elections. He said that they would immediately have a meeting to discuss the road ahead.
The BKP had presented 23 candidates to the ECB. The party clarified there is more waiting in the wings.
DNT was the last group that applied for registration on December 10, 2012.
Interim President of DNT Jigme Zangpo said all formalities have been completed and the party is expecting the announcement of its registration by the end of the week or next week. “We were the last one to submit the application, so it would take some time although all issues has been resolved with the ECB,” he said.
Jigme Zangpo also said the documents submitted earlier had some minor errors like “typos and translation rectifications”. “It’s also about maintaining the standard language of ECB or electoral laws in our application documents which has all been taken care of,” he added.
DNT had also submitted only 15 candidates and were asked by ECB to provide the names of at least 50 percent of the candidates.