Bhutan convenes first parliament session

Guwahati, May 8:

Bhutan today held its first parliament session, marking its shift from absolute monarchy after elections in March, officials said.

Jigme Tshultim, speaker of the Bhutan National Assembly, or the lower house in parliament, led the joint session in the 72-member parliament.

The lawmakers — 47 members of the National Assembly and 25 members of the National Council, or the upper house — met at the renovated parliament in Thimphu, capital of the isolated Buddhist nation.

During the next few weeks they are expected the endorse the draft constitution as well as bills on elections, the National Assembly, National Council and parliamentary entitlement. “The bills would first go to the National Council then to the National Assembly and finally presented to the king for assent before (they) become an act,” National Assembly secretary Nima Tshering said by telephone.

Forty-five of the National Assembly’s members are from the ruling Druk Phuensum Tshogpa (DPT) party, which won a landslide in the general election, while opposition People’s Democratic Party has just two. Most of the elected lawmakers, who were given instructions on parliamentary rules and regulations, said they were excited about their new roles. “I’m nervous because I’ve never witnessed a National Assembly session before,” DPT’s Cheki Wangmo, was quoted as saying by Kuensel.