Nanong-Shumar constituency will have to go to polls once more to elect a replacement
Parliament: Nanong-Shumar constituency in Pemagatshel will go without a representative in the first session of the second Parliament next month, with the National Assembly speaker accepting the resignation tendered by its elected member, former prime minister Jigmi Y Thinley.
With this, the constituency, having officially been declared “vacant”, is up for a by election to elect a National Assembly representative within 90 days from yesterday, the day the application was accepted.
While sources confirmed that People’s Democratic party would pitch its candidate Pema Wangchuk, who lost to DPT president in the general elections last month, to contest the by-election, Druk Phuensum Tshogpa is yet to decide on one.
“We’ll leave it to the people and party representatives in the constituency to decide on the nomination and not decide from here,” DPT vice-president, opposition leader Dr Pema Gyamtsho, said.
Speculation is also rife that it could be PDP’s former candidate, Jigme Dukpa, who was replaced by Pema Wangchuk for failing to make it for nomination filing during the last elections owing to a trip abroad, who might hop across to represent DPT.
Jigme Dukpa could not be reached for comment.
Meanwhile, DPT president’s resignation from the assembly was accepted almost 10 days after it was submitted to the general secretary, who forwarded it to the speaker soon after he got elected and assumed office.
With the law unclear on how to proceed, Speaker Jigme Zangpo said that, in order to make sure they didn’t make mistakes on day one, various provisions had to be studied.
He cited section 18 of National Assembly Act that provides for Parliament members to resign by submitting in writing to the speaker while the House is in session and to secretary general if not.
“It provides for a simple procedure concerning resignation without any proviso providing for consequences for resigning without valid reasons,” he said at a press conference yesterday.
With certain provisions indicating the speaker may refuse to accept resignation, the speaker also stated section 21 of the Act, which said a member remaining absent for more than one-fourth of the number of days in session without permission of the House will have to vacate his or her seat.
This rendered speaker’s earlier discretion of not accepting the resignation redundant.
“However, given the inadequacies in the enacted law, the right or liberty to resign can’t be denied to the applicant,” speaker Jigme Zangpo said.
However, in the process of finalising the resignation, it was also decided that the assembly, during the first session, will review the relevant provisions of the law to consider proper procedures and consequences with regard to resignation by parliament members post elections.
The House will also look into “mitigating” the “lacuna” presented by the two sections of the National Assembly Act.
In amending the provisions, Jigme Zangpo said they will make sure members-elect live up to the trust reposed on them by the electorate, prevent inconvenience to voting population, who have to participate in “avoidable” by-elections, and to ensure the exchequer was not burdened by having to incur expenses for by-elections triggered by resignations.
Meanwhile, in explaining why they took some time to come out with a decision on the resignation sought, Jigme Zangpo said, like in any practice, they kept petition period of ten days.
“Although there were no written guideline to be followed, we thought we should give some time for the former prime minister to reconsider,” he said.
At the press conference yesterday, the speaker also thanked the resigning Nanong-Shumar candidate for participating in the democratic process, for contributions made to the first Parliament, and service rendered to the nation as its first democratically elected prime minister.
“It’s unfortunate that he won’t be able to share his vast experience in governance and leadership with the second Parliament,” he said.
However, it is not known whether Jigmi Y Thinley has resigned from the party as well.
Meanwhile, a writ for an election to fill the vacancy will be issued within one month from the occurrence of vacancy, which was yesterday, and an election of a member to fill the vacancy will be held within 90 days from the date of vacancy.
By Kesang Dema