Bhutan students to work as poll staff

Thimphu, September 23 :

Bhutan may use students as polling officials during its first general election in 2008 when the Himalayan kingdom shifts from monarchy to parliamentary democracy.

Bhutan Chief Election Commissioner Dasho Kunzang Wangdi said he was impressed by the student trainees of the Paro College of Education during a three-day mock election earlier this month.

“It was evident that the students had put in a lot of thought and effort in the campaign. It envisages the trainees of Paro College of Education as electoral officers during the time of election,” said an Election Commission statement.

King Jigme Singye Wangchuck last December made a landmark decision to abdicate the throne in favour of his eldest son, Crown Prince Jigme Khesar Namgyal Wangchuck, 25, before Bhutan adopts a constitution and elects a prime minister in 2008.

Bhutan’s Election Commission said some 400,000 voters out of the country’s nearly 600,000 people would be eligible to exercise their franchise in the 2008 elections to choose the

first democratically elected government.

“Bhutanese citizens who have not yet filled up the Bhutan Voter Registration Form are urged to do so before December 31,” the statement said. Bhutanese above 18 years would vote twice during the 2008 elections — in a primary round of polling and then the general elections.

“The primary round of elections would be open to all political parties registered with the EC.