Bhutan holds second
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Bhutan holds second mock elections in presence of Indian observers
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Bhutan holds second mock elections in presence of Indian observers

The tiny Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan is holding its second mock election as it prepares for next years first general election in its history.

Thimpu (Bhutan), May 29 :The tiny Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan is holding its second mock election as it prepares for next year's first general election in its history.

Two Indian observers -- Deputy Election Commissioner Krishna Kumar from Punjab and Uttarakhand District Magistrate, G.K. Dwivedi are in Bhutan to observe and report the findings on the general mock elections to the Election Commission of Bhutan (ECB). The Resident Coordinator of the Liason Office of Denmark (LOD), Torben Bellers, will also observe the polls with a staff member.

The idea behind the mock polls is to familiarise the Bhutanese with the concept of parliamentary democracy. Only 30 percent of the eligible voters took part in the first mock poll last month.

Officials say teaching the Bhutanese to embrace democracy is being hampered by low literacy levels and the remoteness of much of the country.

The kingdom declared Monday a national holiday to enable the people to turn out to vote.

"This was recommended by the international observers for the primary round of mock elections and hopefully, the voter turn out would increase with this decision," chief election commissioner, Dasho Kunzang Wangdi was quoted as saying by the Kuensel newspaper.

The mock polls were ordered by the former king, Jigme Wangchuck, who wants Bhutan's 700,000 people to familiarise themselves with democracy. In 1998 the king gave up absolute power and in 2006 he abdicated to his son.

Those eligible to vote are being a certificate of civil registration issued by the concerned dzongkhag administration if they have not received the Voter Photo Identity Card (VPIC).

"This is just for the mock elections because for the real elections people should have the VPIC," Kuensel quoted Wangdi, as saying

The past two days have been declared as dry days, as entering the polling station in am inebriated state is prohibited, according to the election commission. The carrying any arms, including a penknife, except by election security personnel, is being treated as an offence.

According to election commission officials, the Resident Representative of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) to Bhutan, Nicholas Rosselini and some staff members will observe the election in the southern part of Bhutan. The director of the UN information center, Shalini Dewan who is based in Delhi will also be in the country to observe the election.

Eleven media personnel from five different foreign news agencies are also in the country to observe the election.

ANI

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