Multiple reasons as to why Foreign Minister is to be replaced

With the Haa Dzongkhag court exonerating the Foreign Minister recently, many were surprised with the government’s decision to propose to His Majesty the King for the effective replacement of the Foreign Minister Lyonpo Rinzin Dorji.

The Prime Minister has put up a proposal to His Majesty whereby the Minister for Home and Cultural Affairs Lyonpo Damcho Dorji is appointed the new Foreign Minister. The new Home Minister in turn is proposed to be the Chukha, Bongo-Chapcha Member of Parliament Dawa Gyeltshen.

A reliable source said that though the Lhakhang Karpo case was a major factor there were also other pressing reasons.

One main issue was that the post of the Foreign Minister which was already vacant for around six months would be vacant for an even longer time with the Office of the Attorney General (OAG) and the Anti Corruption Commission (ACC) appealing the case to the High Court.

The Foreign Minister had gone on authorized absence since January 23rd 2015 when the OAG first filed the case in the Haa Dzongkhag court.

With such a high profile case anticipated to be fought all the way to the Supreme Court the government is not willing to keep an important ministry vacant for long.

The Foreign Ministry both under the former and current government is unique in not having serving ministers for a long stretch of time. The government is concerned that given the sensitive and important nature of the ministry it requires a full time minister. It is understood that the experienced Home Minister will be been sent as the Foreign Minister with some important tasks to handle.

The source said that the absence of the Foreign Minister also affected the cabinet as it meant an incomplete cabinet which is the main executive body of the government.

According to the source the government also did not want a minister’s post to be taken for granted with it not mattering if there was a minister or not in a ministry. The source said that to avoid any past precedents the government wanted to give importance in having a full time minister.

Another factor according to the source was the performance and track record of the Foreign Minister.

In the cases of both the former and current governments the respective Prime Ministers took additional charge of the Foreign Ministry when the Foreign Ministers were not in office.

There was a growing feeling in the government that given the already onerous and many critical responsibilities of the Prime Minister it would not be good to continue with this arrangement for too long.

However, the source said that the main intent of the decision was to show the commitment of the government to fight corruption. The source said that this was demonstrated by the fact that even though the Haa Dzongkhag court exonerated the minister this action was still taken.

Meanwhile a minister on the condition of anonymity said, “When we don’t spare our own this will send a loud and clear signal down the line that the government will have zero tolerance for any corruption.”

A comparison was also made to the former government’s time where despite convictions from the Mongar Dzongkhag court two ministers continued in office.

The Foreign Minister is an accused in the Lhakhang Karpo case. He was exonerated by the Haa district court but the Office of the Attorney General and the Anti Corruption Commission has appealed to the High Court against the verdict. The OAG has handed over the case to ACC for prosecution.

On 20th July 2015, the Prime Minister submitted to His Majesty the King for the transfer of the Home Minister to the post of the Foreign Minister in accordance with Article 17 section 3 of the Constitution.

The Prime Minister also under the same section submitted that MP Dawa Gyeltshen from Bongo Chapcha be appointed the new Home Minister.

Dawa Gyeltshen is a PDP MP who is currently the Chairperson of the Good Governance Committee and a member of the Parliamentary Affairs and Finance Committee of the National Assembly.

He has a Bachelors degree in Education from the Huddersfield University in United Kingdom.

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