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Bhutan warns officials against meddling in politics

Bhutan has warned Govt officials of termination of service if found either supporting or criticising political parties in the run-up to polls.
IANS | By HT Correspondent, Thimphu
UPDATED ON MAR 13, 2007 06:24 PM IST

Bhutan has warned government officials of termination of service if found either supporting or criticising political parties in the run-up to the country's first general elections in 2008.

"This is a reminder not only for the civil servants but also to inform the public that there is no room for politicking in civil service," Dasho Bap Kesang, secretary of the Royal Civil Service Commission of Bhutan, said.

The official said violation of the order would entail immediate termination without any post service benefits.

"The civil service must be promoted as an independent and an apolitical body to discharge public duties in an efficient and accountable manner," Bhutan's national newspaper Kuensel quoted Kesang as saying. Government officials were, however, free to resign from service and join politics.

"We do expect a certain number of our civil servants to join politics but for the moment we cannot speculate on the number.

However, we are not expecting a major exit from civil service," Kesang said.

The process of formation of political parties in the Himalayan kingdom has begun with Bhutan's transition from monarchy to parliamentary democracy reaching a crucial stage.

Bhutan recent announced there would be 47 constituencies in the country, the members of which will be elected to the National Assembly or parliament in the first general elections.

Former king Jigme Singye Wangchuck last December abdicated the throne in favour of his eldest son, Jigme Khesar Namgyal Wangchuck, 26.

The transition began six years ago when the former 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.

In 2004, Bhutan unveiled a 34-point constitution and sent it 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.

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