Bhutan votes in first elections

Himalayan kingdom moves towards embracing constitutional democracy.

    Many voters walked for hours from distant
    villages to cast their votes [AFP]

    "Polling has ended with overwhelming response," Dasho Kunzang Wangdi, Bhutan's chief election commissioner, said in the capital Thimphu.
     
    However, several complaints had been made by voters saying they were unable to vote because of bureaucratic glitches.
     
    "Some people applied for their voter card quite late so they could not receive them on time," Wangdi said.
     
    Democratic transition
     
    The tiny, conservative Himalayan kingdom has been preparing for polls since the former monarch decided to hand power to an elected government.
     
    Members of the National Council are barred from joining political parties.
     
    However, polls will take place in February and March to elect the 75-member National Assembly where newly formed political parties can take part.

     

    Final turnout figures were not available but many of Bhutan’s over 300,000 eligible voters walked for hours from distant villages across the mountain slopes to cast their vote.
     
    "I came along with my husband and two sons early in the morning. We are now part of history having cast our votes," Pema Dorji, a school teacher said.
     
    But many Bhutanese view the looming changes with trepidation.
     
    "To be frank we want the monarchy to continue. But with the king deciding to usher in democracy there is no option and so we are praying that this new system works well," said an elderly monk.
     
    Many candidates were in their twenties, partly because the rules required all candidates to be university graduates.

    SOURCE: Agencies


    YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

    We foreigners: What it means to be Bengali in India's Assam

    We foreigners: What it means to be Bengali in India's Assam

    As tensions over India's citizenship law shine a light on Assam, a writer explores the historical tensions in the state.

    Sentenced to death for blasphemy: Surviving Pakistan's death row

    Sentenced to death for blasphemy: Surviving Pakistan's death row

    The story of a man who spent 19 years awaiting execution reveals the power of a false blasphemy claim to destroy a life.

    The Syrian women and girls sold into sexual slavery in Lebanon

    The Syrian women and girls sold into sexual slavery in Lebanon

    Syria's refugee crisis has shone a light on sex trafficking in Lebanon, where victims are often treated as criminals.