Bhutan Election: Responsible Action Demanded of EU Observers

A team of 15 observers from 13 different European Union countries arrived in Bhutan to observe the first ever general election, scheduled for March 24, 2008.

The Druk National Congress say they welcome this presence, but are alarmend by recent remarks of the EU team. Druk National Congress says the remarks cast doubt on the effectiveness of the team to observe behind-the-scenes work that will determine the ultimate outcome of the elections.

Rongthong Kunley Dorji, President of Druk Congress said, “It is obvious that the process is being observed only at face value. Further, we apprehend that EU observers will bless Bhutan’s general election in spite of all shortcomings.”

Mr. Javier Pomes, the Chief of the European Union Election Observation Mission said, “In our observations so far, most of the processes comply with international standards.”

Mr Pomes and his team members acknowledge the fact that only two political parties, both headed by the relatives of the King are allowed to participate in the political process. In addition, large sections of the population are excluded from the process including people in exile.

Despite the elections being only two weeks away, people are still being arrested for engaging in political activities that do not favour the present regime.

The EU team has not commented on whether these practices are in compliance with International standards.

On hearing the EU report, Rongthong Kunley Dorji said “We are aware of the existing democratic practices and traditions prevalent in European Countries. We are therefore, disheartened to hear such irresponsible remarks” and “we hope that the Team will advise the Bhutan regime to work towards a genuine and inclusive democracy.”

Bhutan cracks down on rebels ahead of first poll (Reuters)

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