As Bhutan holds first democratic elections, UN agency pledges ongoing support
The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) has pledged to continue its support of Bhutan’s transition to democracy as voters went to the polls today in historic elections in the small Himalayan country.
UNDP said in a press statement issued in Thimphu, the capital, late last week that it was committed to helping the Election Commission of Bhutan (ECB) fulfil its mandate beyond the current elections for a National Assembly – the first ever multi-party elections in the country.
The agency has been assisting the ECB since last year, including by training election officials, providing them with better equipment, building temporary polling stations, printing print and audio-visual voter educational material and staging mock elections to help ensure that the country was ready for today’s vote.
UNDP has also trained 40 Bhutanese journalists on how to effectively cover an election process and backed the Anti-Corruption Commission with its efforts to make both the electoral process and the Government more accountable.
Bhutan had been an absolute monarchy until these elections; now the king will remain head of State while the National Assembly will comprise an upper house and a lower house that will form the Government.