The Election Commission of Bhutan (ECB) has denied any sorts of time extension granted to the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) toward the clearance of its debts. The commission also stated that the media had also misinterpreted the information.
However, General Secretary of PDP Yogesh Tamang said it is not true, “we have an understanding with the Election Commission on this matter”.
Finance Officer of ECB, Tshewang Penjore said that the last deadline for clearing debts was on June 30th, while July 16th was deadline for both Druk Phuensum Tshogpa (DPT) as well as PDP to submit status reports.
“We are still reviewing the status report, looking into various elements like the amount of money collected from party membership, and other book of finances. Only then party will be eligible to contest for 2013 elections,” said the ECB finance officer.
He said, they will soon complete the status reports and then the commission will decide the results based on the status reported and presented by the parties.
“There was misinterpretation in the report of articles by the media regarding time extension given to PDP,” said Tshewang Penjore.
According to the officiating General Secretary of DPT Tshewang Rinzin, there was some misconception in the deadline to submit party dues and status reports which was 16 days after the June 30 deadline.
“May be they (PDP) took 16 days as an extended number of days to clear off the debts,” said DPT officiating General Secretary Tshewang Rinzin.
He asked how DPT paid left over balances with media houses like Bhutan Observer, Bhutan Times and Kuensel. Reflecting the PM who said:
“The ECB should have disqualified the opposition party from participating in the next round of elections, for failing to meet the June 30 deadline to clear all financial liabilities.”
“That is a decision that should have been taken,” Lyonchhen Jigmi Y. Thinley told the media at the recent Meet the Press.
The election commission, through a notification in January 2009, had directed the two parties to clear all financial liabilities by June 30 this year. While the DPT cleared its debt on time the PDP had missed its deadline.
Lyonchhen said the other (opposition) party didn’t manage to fulfill its requirement within that stipulated time and asked for an extension of two additional weeks.
The Economic affairs minister, Khandu Wangchuk supplemented that the Druk Phuensum Tshogpa (DPT) took the communication they received from election commission very seriously, and that it had “not been easy” for DPT to clear the debts.
Lyonchhen said, “What was made very clear to Druk Phuensum Tshogpa (DPT) as binding is actually not binding on the opposition party”.
The Opposition Leader Tshering Tobgay earlier said there is no law that disqualifies political parties which have not cleared all their debts from taking part in elections. He said “the ECB has issued a notification to clear all our debts. We accept ECB’s guidance in this matter and are trying our best to clear all our dues”.
The OL said PDP has cleared most of its outstanding debts, and expected to clear the remainder within the next few weeks. “In the meantime we have sought ECB’s guidance and direction,” he said.
“The prime minister’s comments are unfortunate. He does not seem to understand the laws of the land. But more importantly, he seems eager to undermine other political parties instead of working to contribute to strengthening democracy in our country,” said the OL.