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127 candidates to contest for council

The third National Council (NC) elections will see 127 candidates vying for 20 seats on April 20, poll day.

The candidates emerged after successfully crossing the stages the Election Commission of Bhutan (ECB) laid out for them. They were first nominated by their gewogs through a zomdu selection, followed by scrutiny of nomination papers on March 20.

From the 130 candidates who were selected through the zomdu process from across the country, three candidates did not file the nomination though they were selected: Dorji Wangchuk, 33, from Trashigang, Ugyen Dorji, 34, from Pemagatshel and Mon Bdr Rai, 28, from Sarpang. The last date of the nomination was on March 19.

Of the 127 candidates, six are female. Mongar has the highest number of candidates contesting with 13 followed by Tsirang with 12 candidates. Bumthang has only two candidates followed by Gasa with three.

Initially, 179 aspiring candidates across the country participated in the gewog Dhamngoi zomdu process of which seven were female.

The candidates, who came forward, are from different backgrounds. Among others, there are university graduates, teachers, actors, private employees and corporate employees.

Among them are candidates who contested the previous council election but lost and 12 incumbent members. There are also previous candidates of political parties who lost in the elections while some are newbies.

In the first NC elections, there were 52 candidates while in the second elections 67 candidates contested for the NC.

Of 52 NC candidates in 2008, six females contested for the NC, and of 67 in 2013,  four females. In 2013, none of the female candidates were elected.

In the first council elections, five dzongkhags initially failed to produce candidates. The other 15 dzongkhags went ahead with the elections on December 31, 2007. The elections for the remaining five dzongkhags were held on January 29, 2008.

In the second council elections, the highest number of contestants was from Samtse with seven followed by Paro with five. In 2013, the candidates were aged between 25 to 58 and from those who were elected, 13 of them had Masters degree, six had Bachelors degree and one PhD.

The campaign period started on March 20 and ends on April 18.

Dechen Dolkar from Thimphu