From eKantipur Online:
The Bhutanese government, which has announced that it is converting itself into a democracy, is all set to stage mock polls on April 21 and May 28.
The election commission of Bhutan (ECB) is planning to hold the mock polls in two phases– preliminary and final rounds — just like a sporting event. Four mock political parties will be contesting the preliminary phase on April 21 while two finalists will be fighting the final round on May 28.
The ECB claimed that such polls have been planned to educate the people so that they can participate in the real general elections to be held in 2008.
All students across the country will be the voters in the mock polls where students will also be the candidates. Altogether 47 constituencies have been demarcated and there will be a total of 884 polling centers. However, real legal requirements –election bills, rules, regulations and guidelines — will be implemented during the polls, according to the chief election commissioner of Bhutan, Dasho Kunzang Wangdi.
“Another drama is being staged in Bhutan,” said Narad Adhikari, general secretary of the Druk National Congress, adding, “It clearly indicates the royal government’s intention of holding a similar type of general election.”
For the real polls scheduled for 2008, only two parties were registered by the deadline set by the ECB. Participation of at least five political parties is mandatory in the polls as per the constitution of Bhutan proposed by the royal government. One of the registered parties, People’s Democratic Party, is led by current minister for business affairs and another is led by Nedup Dorji, maternal uncle of King Jigme Keshar Namgyel. Some 150,000 Bhutanese, including those speaking Nepali, have not been registered in the electoral rolls
These are truly wonderful times we live in — who ever thought they’d see the leader of the Maoists in Nepal, Prachandra,Â proposeÂ Republic as the form of government there? This is going largely unreported in American media, but the story in Nepal and the one in Bhutan are tales of new freedom that need to be shared.
What amazes me is reading some of the online forums in Nepal, the debaters in the forums are quoting heavily from the Federalist papers, and seem to know more about the founding of our country than most Americans. It’s thrilling that the old wordsÂ which paved the way toÂ our freedomsÂ hundreds of years agoÂ still have power across the world today.