Take forward the democratic transition: BNDP says

Published on Nov 01 2008 // Main News

Kathmandu, November 01: Bhutan National Democratic Party (BNDP) has asked the King Jigme Khesar to take forward the democratic process initiated more recently to its logical end, in which all the ethnic groups enjoy the rights of dignified citizens of a democratic Bhutan and deliver justice to over 100,000 Bhutanese people who have been living in exile for political reasons.

In a statement issued Saturday on the eve of the coronation of the fifth King Jigme Khesar, BNDP reiterate its position that it continues to believe that multi-party polity and constitutional monarchy are the twin pillars of a democratic Bhutan.

“Earlier, the democratic process, which was introduced by the third King Jigme Dorji Wangchuck– with the establishment of National Assembly in 1953, Council of Ministers in 1968, and the induction of the provision in 1969 to impeach the King by two-thirds of the National Assembly members– were reversed by the fourth King Jigme Singye Wangchuck in the 1970s,” the party said, adding, “This had turned back the clock in the democratization process. The then government’s decision to trample upon the ethnic, religious  and citizenship rights of the minority Lhotsampa population in the late 1980s has led to the current political crisis and because of which over one-seventh of the country’s population continue to live in exile.”

Terming the current democratic transition as cosmetic in nature, BNDP said more political reforms are needed to address the aspiration of all ethnic groups and provide political space to the growing size of educated Bhutanese people.

It said the transition addressed little on the issues of rights of citizenship, freedom of expression, freedom of association and freedom to worship.

Mentioning the third country resettlement process as interim, the party said legitimate solution to almost two-decade old Bhutanese refugee problem is their repatriation with honor and dignity to their own place in Bhutan.

The party further asked the Bhutanese government to immediately start dialogue with government of Nepal to open the door immediately for repatriation together with the on-going option for third country resettlement. Any delaying tactics on the resolution of this political problem will be extremely costly for the country and the people of Bhutan, it said. Bhutan News Service