Today in New Delhi, India
Oct 19, 2018-Friday
-°C
New Delhi
  • Humidity
    -
  • Wind
    -

Row over Bhutan's transition to democracy

The complaints centre around a provision in a draft constitution which stipulates that only university graduates can contest polls.

india Updated: Dec 25, 2006 17:40 IST

A row has erupted over the tiny Himalayan nation of Bhutan's planned transition from royal rule to constitutional monarchy, reports said on Sunday.

The complaints centre around a provision in a draft constitution which stipulates that only university graduates can contest the Buddhist kingdom's first general elections, which are scheduled to take place in 2008.

"The education criteria would take away rights of the people. There would not be mass representation," the deputy speaker in Bhutan's national assembly, Zhamling Dorji, was quoted as saying by the national newspaper Kuensel.

The 34-point draft constitution has been sent to the Bhutanese people for their views ahead of the elections.

Only 42 per cent people in Bhutan are literate and the country has 11,000 graduates among its 600,000 people.

"Should we allow our population to be represented by the two percent who are graduates?" Dorji said.

Several representatives of Bhutan's 20 districts have also opposed the guidelines.

"Modern education alone cannot judge a person," an unnamed representative from Zhemgang district was quoted as saying by Kuensel.

This month, Jigme Singye Wangchuck abdicated the throne in favour of his son, Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck in a bid to give the young Oxford-educated royal more exposure to governance.

The country's transition to a constitutional monarchy began five years ago when the king handed over the powers of daily government to a council of ministers.

The draft constitution was unveiled in 2005. Once adopted, it will replace a royal decree giving the monarch absolute power.

Bhutan's election commission said some 400,000 voters would be eligible to vote in the 2008 elections.

First Published: Dec 25, 2006 17:40 IST