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Bhutan plays songs for voters

Radio stations in Nepal are playing songs to teach the Himalayan kingdom's citizens about voting.

india Updated: Nov 29, 2006 16:55 IST

Bhutan's two state-owned radio stations are playing songs especially composed to teach the Himalayan kingdom's citizens about voting ahead of its first-ever general elections in 2008, officials said on Wednesday.

"The election songs aim to motivate and inform the Bhutanese voters to come forward and participate in the electoral process with the highest sense of pride," Bhutan's Election Commission said in a statement.

The tracks, in the local language of Dzongha, have aired on the Bhutan Broadcasting Service and Kuzu FM Radio for the past two weeks.

Bhutan's Election Commission launched a public education drive following a directive by King Jigme Singye Wangchuck to help Bhutan's estimated 400,000 voters become acquainted with the electoral process.

"As one of the measures to implement the royal command, the Election Commission of Bhutan is happy to release the communication materials, including a Bhutan voter guide, a documentary film, and the election songs," the statement said.

The guide contains information on every aspect of the electoral process, while the film was based on mock elections held in August.

An estimated 75 per cent of eligible voters have already registered their names with the Election Commission ahead of a December 31st deadline, the commission said.

King Jigme Singye Wangchuck, 50, last December made a landmark decision to abdicate in favour of Crown Prince Jigme Khesar Namgyal Wangchuck, 25, before Bhutan adopts a constitution and elects a prime minister in 2008.

The transition began five years ago when the king handed over the powers of daily government to a council of ministers and empowered the national assembly to force a royal abdication if three-quarters of its membership backed the motion.

Bhutan in 2004 year unveiled a draft constitution that was sent to all families in the nation of 530,000 for comment.

The constitution is expected to be ratified after a referendum likely in 2007.

Once adopted, the constitution will replace a royal decree of 1953 giving the monarch absolute power.

King Wangchuck is the fourth ruler in the Wangchuck dynasty that came to power in December 1907.

First Published: Nov 29, 2006 16:55 IST