The Prime Minister Jigmi Y. Thinley during the recent Meet the Press session said that the opposition party (PDP), should be disqualified from the next round of elections since they did not meet the June 30 deadline to clear all financial liabilities.
“I imagine the ECB would have disqualified the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) from participating in the next round of elections,” Lyonchhen said. “That is a decision that should have been taken.”
The Election Commission of Bhutan (ECB), through a notification in January 2009, directed the two parties to clear all financial liabilities by June 30 this year.
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”.
“I think this is election commission’s business not DPT’s,” said Opposition member Damcho Dorji when asked about the Prime Minister’s statement.
Chief Election Commissioner Dasho Kunzang Wangdi said it would be inappropriate to presume anything before the status reports the two parties had submitted is fully reviewed. “We’ll make appropriate decisions once the study is done,” he said.
“No decision was taken on PDP’s request for extension of deadline,” he said, adding June 30 was the deadline to clear the dues, and both the parties were given time until July 16 to submit the party status reports.
“The public fund division is going through the papers and it’ll be further reviewed by the commission,” he said.
The prime Minister asked what would happen to the prominent members of PDP (Opposition Leader Tshering Tobgay and Gasa MP Damcho Dorji), since the party had not fulfilled this very important obligation. “For instance, if DPT had not fulfilled the particular obligation, if the party is disqualified from participating from the next round of elections, can I form another party and continue as if nothing has happened?”
“So I wonder whether the only two members, the leader and the deputy leader of the party will in fact be allowed to participate in the next election.” Lyonchhen said.
“What’s the point in having a law like this?” he asked. “You change the name of the party, do some editing in the party manifesto, and you are there.”
Spokesperson for Druk Nyamrup Tshogpa (DNT), Dr. Tandi Dorji said that the decision should be left to the Election Commission of Bhutan. He said whatever ECB decides, every political party must abide.
The Bhutan Kuenyam Party (BKP) Spokesperson Sonam Tobgay, said “it’s no doubt that PDP has passed the deadline, so we have to wait and see what ECB decides and it’s very early to say and react”.