ECB’s right

Testing times

The Election Commission of Bhutan is correct in cautioning the government that the local government elections would be incomplete and unconstitutional if those elections were conducted without first finalizing the yenlag thromdes (satellite towns).

Yenlag thromdes have still not been identified for the Dzongkhags. So holding the local government elections now would, as ECB maintains, result in incomplete Dzongkhag Tshogdus, and risk violating Article 21 Section 9 of the Constitution according to which:

The Dzongkhag Tshogdu shall comprise:

(a)            The Gup and Mangmi as the two elected representatives from each Gewog;

(b)            One elected representative from that Dzongkhag Thromde; and

(c)            One elected representative from Dzongkhag Yenlag Thromdes.

Local government elections have already been seriously delayed. As such, development work at the gewogs have suffered. And more importantly, two and a half years after the first general elections, our people continue to be deprived of the main benefit of the democratic process which is to elect and to hold to account their local leaders.

Yes, local government elections must be conducted as soon as possible. But the local governments so elected must be complete and must conform to the laws, especially the Constitution.

So I welcome the chief election commissioner’s announcement that the local government elections “could happen in the spring of 2011”. In the meantime, the government must finalise a complete proposal for yenlag thromdes in every dzongkag, and submit it to the next session of the Parliament scheduled for November this year.

And, one more thing: the government must desist from advocating the idea that certain parts of the Constitution do not have to be implemented immediately. The Constitution “is the Supreme Law of the State” (Article 1 Section 9), and, as such, it must be implemented immediately and in its entirety. Anything less is disrespectful to the Constitution and is dangerous for democracy.

In this regard, the government would be well advised to withdraw its statement, justifying local government elections without yenlag thromdes, that:

… the decision on whether all the conditions listed in the Constitution should be established immediately, regardless of the ground realities, should be left to the parliament and government

Photo credit: BBS


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  1. I for one was questioning whether we even need a yenlag thromde at the moment. What is the rationale of having one like that? To an ecologist like me, this would mean faster depletion of natural resources and massive destruction of wildlife habitats in rural areas. I am already sick and tired of dealing with human-wildlife conflicts even when there is minimal disturbance on wildlife habitats. God knows what will be the situation when most of the habitats will be converted into sub-urban areas in the villages.
    At the moment I feel that Dzongkhag Thromdes are enough to have business and facilities if the ultimate aim is to reduce rural-urban migration.
    Are we really making a joke of ourselves when are proudly saying to the rest of the world that our constitution mandates us to leave 60% forest cover in perpetuity?
    Where is the money coming from to build Yenlag Thromdes by the way? Why aren’t there enough facilities in the Dzongkhag Thromdes? I have seen water problems and housing problems in many Dzongkhags. Isn’t it wiser to first fix our Throms before making a step further to create Yenlag Thromdes? These are questions coming out of my curiosity and if they don’t make sense, I sincerely apologize.

  2. Ultimately, one should judge by the intention. For me, the intend is good for both Government and ECB. One doesn’t want to further delay the LG election and other wants to go in line with certain provision of constitution.

    I would rather blame members of parliament i.e. both NC and NA members for not reaching consensus on this issue. And my question is, what next, if members are again divided in the 6th session…should it go on without lg election???…

    However, my personal opinion is, while we will have to follow the law, it looks totally irrational to have yenlag thromdes in some districts at this juncture..

  3. Dear OL, are you telling us that ECB has the authority to declare the action of government as Unconstitutional or otherwise. I think that authority is conferred upon the Supreme Court by non other than the Constitution itself. Therefore, ECB is simply wasting time trying to claim rights over the interpretation of the Constitution.

    Secondly, the Parliament has given the green signal for LG election and if ECB is not comfortable carrying out the directives and will of the Parliament, that is a serious crime, which is impeachable. If the Chief Election Commissioner doesn’t want to lose his job, he should conduct LG election at the earliest and fulfill its mandate of conducting ‘free and fair election’, instead of asserting the rights over interpreting the Constitution.

  4. Delaying local government election is delaying implementation of many development activities. Unpopular gups are simply occupying chair without doing any thing. We need new dynamic gups sooner than later.

    Please do not use constitution as an excuse for not doing anything. I personally think Bhutan does not require satellite towns in all Dzongkhags; We are too small and too few to have satellite town everywhere. If constitution requires satellite town in every dzongkhags then amend the clause; the writers of constitution in this particular case did not foresee such shortcomings.


  5. People keep referring to constitution again and again as if it is a perfect document. There are many inconsistencies there, and parliamentarians should amend some of them. Why should we keep remaining bothered by impracticable and irrelevant laws?

  6. this is not a something new thing to me we all know that district municipality is very impotent then satellite town but with out a representative from there to support the thromdey thuemei like Gup and Mangmei,nothing will happen or change in our all twenty town the new LG election, since dzongkhag Addm is not interested in keeping our town clean also even they dominate in every things. WE;RE JUST TALKING A MEMBER FROM SATELLITE TOWN, NOT TO ESTABLISH THE DISTRICT MUINCIPALITY OFFICE THERE.

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