Bhutan holds second national elections

Thimphu (Bhutan), July 13 (ANI): The second national elections in Bhutan began at 9 a.m. local time on Saturday with the country's two major political parties facing off in the polls, which have been logistically aided by India.

Elections are being contested by Druk Phuensum Tshogpa (DPT), which is the ruling party in Bhutan and the People's Democratic Party (PDP), the major opposition.

In the last election, the opposition could win only two out of the 47 seats up for grabs.

In the first stage of the polls on May 31, two parties, the Druk Nymrub Tshogpa (DNT) and Druck Chirwang Tshogpa (DCT), lost out leaving the DPT and PDP to contest the final stage of the polls tomorrow.

Bhutan has a tri-cameral parliament of the King, National Council and the National Assembly. There are 25 seats in the National Council or the Upper House. Five of them are appointed by the King and 20 elected from 20 districts. National Assembly or lower house consists of 47 members elected from 47 constituencies. Representatives to both houses were elected first in 2008.

The fate of 94 candidates in 47 constituencies will be decided by 3,81,790 registered voters, including 187,917 female voters. In addition, there are 48,000 postal voters. Highest number of voters are in Satse, 41,769, followed by Trashigang, 41,510. Capital Thimphu has 12,453 voters. Lowest number of voters are in Gasa, 1,842 voters.

About 10,000 officers, including security personnel, have been deployed for election duty.

There are 850 polling stations, including 215 temporary polling stations. India has provided 1,935 electronic voting machines to Bhutan for the elections.

Earlier, Bhutan Chief Election Commissioner Kunzang Wangdi said: "We are all ready. It is a free and fair election. We expect the polling will be peaceful."

He said his country is grateful to India for its help to conduct the free and fair polls successfully by providing logistical support, including gifting nearly 2,000 Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs).

Wangdi said his men and materials are in place in all polling stations, including remote ones.

Voting ends at 5 p.m. local time and the counting will begin immediately after completion of polling.

Results are expected to be out by 9 p.m. Sunday, Wangdi said.

India's Chief Election Commissioner V. S. Sampath is overseeing the election process in Bhutan. (ANI)

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