ECB says ‘No electioneering while in the line of duty’

Election 2As events heat up toward an approaching 2013, the Election Commission of Bhutan (ECB) will have to enforce election rules to make them cut and dry especially for those who will predictably attempt to tread on the gray lines or slip one past the loop holes.

Section 300 of Election Act of the Kingdom of Bhutan 2008 provisions that Parliamentarians are prohibited from ‘electioneering works’ even in the non-election period in the course of carrying out their mandate, this is also implied for the National Council (NC) members who need to resign to contest the elections.

The ECB is legally bound to uphold section 300 of the Election Act which states: “No elected representative in Parliament, including Ministers, or Members of Local Government shall combine his/her official visit with electioneering work or make use of official machinery or personnel during the electioneering work or use any government transport, for the furtherance of the interest of any party at candidate an election.”

An ECB official said “the commission is of the firm understanding that this provision prohibits MPs from ‘electioneering works’ even in the non-election period in the course of carrying out their mandate”.

It would be ‘outright violation’ allowing sitting MPs to contest elections during the Election Period and ‘making any exception to section 300 of the Election Act of kingdom of Bhutan, 2008.

Section 3 and section 6 of Article 10 of the constitution states: “The election of the members of parliament shall be in accordance with the provisions of Electoral laws of the Kingdom,” and “The Election Commission shall function in accordance with the Electoral Laws.”

The ECB official said “ECB cannot make any exceptions in constitutional or legal provisions related to election”.

Political analysts say that it would do nothing to impede any parliamentarian’s mandate if they discuss their candidacy with the aspiring political parties or help develop party strategy or manifesto or anything that helps the aspiring political parties. It applies the same to any related jobs they do for registered parties.

Whatever the fate of current events, 2013 elections is kicking around the corner with only few months left for possible primary elections. And aspiring political parties say that they are forced to pursue their candidates in the parliament, parliamentarians who are still serving their term.

About members of NC to remain in service or resign if they wished to contest elections, the ECB considers it necessary that any individual MP of the NC will have to ‘resign to contest’ and it does not state that the NC has to dissolve.

Puran Gurung

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