Bhutan to give verdict on first five years of democracy
THIMPHU (AFP) - The tiny Himalayan country of Bhutan begins electing a new parliament on Tuesday for only the second time in its history, five years after the Buddhist monarchy gave up its absolute power.
Voters will first choose members of the upper house National Council on Tuesday, a non-party body, then in the following weeks will decide which of five parties will form the next government in the National Assembly.
Since the beginning of April, the 67 candidates for the 20 elected National Council seats - five more members will be appointed by King Jigme Khesar Wanchuk - have been holding debates and public meetings in their respective districts after a local selection process.
In the more remote areas, villagers have walked for hours, or even days, to attend the forums and question the candidates at first hand, and election staff have made similar long treks to set up and staff polling stations in hamlets inaccessible by road.