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ECB’s decisions on election dispute cases

The Election Commission of Bhutan yesterday issued its decision on eight election dispute cases related to the primary rounds of the National Assembly elections, 2018.

The People’s Democratic Party’s (PDP) filed a complaint on August 30 against Druk Nyamrup Tshogpa (DNT) on rampant distribution of party cards and misinforming voters.

The Dzongkhag election dispute settlement body (DEDSB) investigated the case after which the findings were forwarded to the central election dispute settlement body (CEDSB) on September 6.

A hearing with both the parties on September 8 was held. The press release states that the CEDSB dismissed the case in a written decision reasoning that the cards were permitted under the law and that the allegation of the misinformation could not be validated.

“Other issues related to registration and deregistration of members and registration fee, which emerged during the process are to be followed by the Public Election Fund Division (PEFD) with the DNT in due course of time,” the press release states.

In the case where the General Secretary of Druk Phuensum Tshogpa’s (DPT) had lodged a complaint against Dasho Sonam Kinga (PhD) regarding his post on Facebook, the press release states that as no appeal to the decision of CEDSB was received,  the decision was implemented with the post being removed by Dasho Sonam Kinga and a cautionary note issued to him, and DPT denouncing violence especially during elections.

Due to lack of substantive evidence to prove the allegation, the DPT’s Trashiyangtse coordinator Chorten Tshering’s complaint against Neten Dorji regarding misuse of voter’s list was dismissed after the ECB reviewed it in accordance with the Election Dispute Settlement System.

Another complaint by DPT dzongkhag coordinator against Kezang of Trashiyangtse regarding a conversation in WeChat group was dismissed after ECB’s careful examination of evidences submitted to the office.

In the case of Ugyen Tshechup’s complaint against “Jigs Rinpoche” regarding a Facebook post against Singye Group of Company (P) Ltd’s affiliation with DNT, the ECB found no locus standi for an election dispute under the Election Dispute Settlement System.

“The election commission found that the case was between two persons who are neither a candidate nor representative of a party contesting election and as the act of the Respondent is not contended to have maligned or disadvantaged the complainant in electoral terms, there is no locus standi for an election dispute under the election dispute settlement system,” the press release states.

However, the press release states that the issue and concern that has emerged in relation to the alleged financial contribution to a political party, shall be followed up by the Public Election Fund Division with DNT in due course of time without necessarily having to attempt to reveal the identity of a fake social media user based on the said allegation.

Regarding the report filed through election machinery on PDP president’s meeting at dzongkhag guesthouse in Pemagatshel on September 4, ECB issued a caution to PDP as it found that 13 non-party members of the 65 people had joined the dinner.

Based on PDP’s response to show-cause notice and information received from dzongkhag and observer, election officials found that the meeting held between 7pm and 9pm was observed as a party meeting and not a campaign activity.

In another case, PDP lodged a query against DPT on meeting groups of voters in clustered village in Dramedtse_Ngatshang Demkhong during door-to-door campaign.

The complaint was dismissed as ECB had permitted all four parties in the interest of time and practicality for both electorate and party representatives.

Besides these, the ECB also received four anonymous complaints.

The first alleged DNT and DPT resorting to illegal activities in Lhuentse. It alleged that DNT was providing money, mobile vouchers and other gratifications to the people.  The complaint also alleged that local government members and civil servants were influencing voters to support DNT and DPT in Lhuentse.

The second complaint alleged DPT of bribing and holding meetings at night at Thridangbi in Mongar where a Tshogpa was also an attendee. The press release also stated that religious personality was influencing people to vote for DPT. It also alleged that Ngatshang Gup and Sherimung Gup supported DPT.

The third complaint was lodged against DPT and DNT, stating that DPT was campaigning at night in Thimphu while DNT coordinators were bribing people with Nu 3, 000 in cash, mobile voucher and mug with DNT’s logo on it. It also alleged that other DNT coordinators were bribing people with minimum of Nu 2,000 and recharge vouchers.

The last complaint through an email (methosaydon@gmail.com), alleged Kanglung gup of indulging in political activities in favour of PDP.

The press release states that necessary material facts and evidences to validate these allegations were missing to pursue the complaints. The complaints were dismissed in accordance to the non-fulfillment of criteria set for election complaint under the rule 9.4 of the EDSRR, 2018.

Rinchen Zangmo

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