Bhutan's march to democracy begins with mock poll
The entire exercise, where teachers and other poll officials would act as politicians and voters, would be made into a documentary film.india Updated: Sep 05, 2006 11:09 IST
Bhutan is holding a three-day mock election from Thursday to prepare officials and citizens ahead of the first general polls in 2008 when the Himalayan kingdom shifts from monarchy to parliamentary democracy.
A statement by Bhutan's Election Commission said the three-day mock election to be held at the National Institute of Education at Paro, 65 km from capital Thimphu, would include political campaigning, voting, counting of votes and declaration of results.
"The key objectives of such a mock election is to introduce the new political system and the election process to the teachers and lecturers and test run the Election Commission's election procedures," the statement said.
The entire exercise, where teachers and other election officials would act as politicians and voters, would be made into a documentary film.
"The film would be shown in the national television and would serve as education material to make the people aware about the election process," an election official said.
The first round of mock elections ended last week with the Election Commission announcing that it would hold such dry runs on a regular basis to create awareness about the poll procedures to its citizens and political parties.
"The mock elections would orient both citizens and officials across the country on how parties are to be formed, who could vote, and how to operate the electronic voting machines," Bhutan's national newspaper Kuensel said.
King Jigme Singye Wangchuck in December last year made a landmark decision to abdicate the throne in favour of his eldest son, Crown Prince Jigme Khesar Namgyal Wangchuck, 25, before Bhutan adopts a constitution and elects a prime minister in 2008.
Bhutan's Election Commission said some 400,000 voters out of the country's nearly 600,000 people would be eligible to exercise their franchise in the 2008 elections to choose the first democratically elected government.
The commission would issue photo identity cards for voters to make the polling fair.
"It is our prayer and our commitment that the Election Commission shall raise to the occasion.
We look forward to the fullest support and cooperation of the citizens of Bhutan," Dasho Kunzang Wangdi, Bhutan's chief election commissioner, said.
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 34-point Constitution and the same was sent to some 530,000 citizens for their views. The Constitution is expected to be ratified after a referendum.
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.