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One-horse race for post of president

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For the first time, there are two women nominees for the vice president’s posts

Bhutan Chamber of Commerce and Industry: With five candidates withdrawing their nominations, the chairman of Singye companies, Ugen T Dorji, remains the sole nominee contesting for the post of the president of the Bhutan Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BCCI), which will hold elections today in Thimphu.

A total of 55 chamber members, of which 40 are dzongkhag representatives (two from each district), 12 representing various business associations and three former presidents (one president and two vice president), will cast a yes or no vote to elect the new president.

The nominated candidates, who withdrew include incumbent president Topgyal Dorji, Hotel Riverview’s Sangay Wangchuk, former minister Sangay Ngedup, former speaker Ugen Dorji, and Lhaki group’s vice chairman Sonam Tobgay Dorji.

“Another term would be difficult for me, because I’ve a lot of other commitments and wouldn’t be able to give full time to the chamber,” Topgyal Dorji said, adding that, as BCCI president, he had done his part in developing the business sector and highlighting its issues to the government.  Topgyal Dorji in 2009 succeeded Ugyen Dorji, who served as BCCI president for 18 years.

For the post of two BCCI vice presidents, there are five nominees, including incumbent BCCI vice president, Chen Chen Dorji.  Six nominated candidates, including former vice president Thinlay Palden Dorji, withdrew.

“I almost withdrew, but then I was nominated by business people from two dzongkhags of Haa and Dagana, so I didn’t want to let them down,” Chen Chen Dorji said. “It’s all right if I don’t get elected but, if I do, then it would provide me another opportunity to serve the business sector.”

For the first time, two women candidates, Yarkay’s Phub Zam and Dechen Wangmo from Samdrupjongkhar have been nominated for the vice president posts.  Earlier, most women nominations were for the executive committee posts.

“It’s good that we’re now seeing nominations from women leadership,” BCCI general secretary, Phub Tshering, said, adding that 60 percent of business in Bhutan is driven by women.  Other candidates, contesting for vice president posts, are Khenpa’s chief executive officer Dorji Tshering and Drukcom’s proprietor Rinzy Dorji.

Six executive members for the six regions of Thimphu, Phuentsholing, Gelephu, Trongsa, Mongar and Samdrupjongkhar will also be elected today.

From October until yesterday, nominations were made from the business community through respective thromdhey thuemis of 20 dzongkhags, and the secretariat of 12 business sector associations.

The nominated candidates are screened by the BCCI election committee through electoral guidelines that require candidates to be a member of BCCI, have valid business license, a tax and security clearance, and election commission clearance stating no affiliation with any political party.

BCCI’s annual general meeting (AGM) has been scheduled for December 20, and the three-day meeting will discuss issues related to private sector, and approve this year’s annual budget.  Established in 1980, the chamber has more than 27,000 plus registered business members.

Electronic voting machines will be used for the elections like in the last elections on April 2, 2009.

By Passang Norbu

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