Another New Democracy


Another New Democracy

World - Reuters
Bhutan Unveils First Constitution, Aims Democracy

Mon Mar 28, 4:31 AM ET
Add to My Yahoo! ?World - Reuters

By Biswajyoti Das

GUWAHATI, India (Reuters) - The tiny Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan has unveiled a draft of its first constitution that aims to set up a two-party democracy after nearly a century of absolute monarchy, the information ministry said Monday.

AP Photo


The tiny Buddhist kingdom does not have a written constitution and its monarchy goes back to 1907 when the great grandfather of the current monarch, Jigme Singye Wangchuk, was formally anointed the first king with British support.

About seven years ago, Wangchuk, who became king in 1972 at the age of 16 after his father's death, took a major step on the road to political reform when he devolved power to a council of ministers.

In 2001, he initiated the drafting of a new constitution.

\"The constitution will provide a legal framework for a democratic political system that is best suited for Bhutan, establish a system of governance that will safeguard the security and sovereignty of the nation,\" the information ministry quoted Wangchuk as saying while unveiling the document Saturday.

The draft will be distributed to more than 500,000 citizens for their views on plans to hand over powers to a council of ministers, introduce a system of two-party democracy and subject the monarchy to a confidence vote, a ministry official told Reuters from Thimphu, the capital of the landlocked nation.

Once the new constitution -- which took four years to prepare and also outlines the responsibilities of the king, clergy, ministers -- is ratified by the people, it will replace a more than 50-year-old royal decree under which Bhutan has been run.

But some Bhutanese fear a move to democracy could lead to political instability as in neighboring Nepal, where King Gyanendra sacked the elected government and seized power last month blaming politicians for failing to tackle a Maoist revolt.

\"People fear that democracy might throw Bhutan into chaos like Nepal because politicians are not so experienced and there is always a chance of power struggle among them,\" one Bhutanese official reached over the telephone said.

Officials say the 49-year-old Bhutanese king wants to ratify the constitution by a referendum by the end of this year.

A 39-member drafting committee headed by the chief justice -- which included the speaker of the National Assembly, two members from religious bodies and one elected member from each of the 20 districts -- studied the constitutions of more than 50 countries.

\"The idea was not to copy other constitutions but to study and adopt what was good and relevant for Bhutan,\" said Bhutan's only newspaper, Kuensel.
Imagine that...and we didn't even have to invade! Bush must be severly dissapointed!



Senior Member
Re: Another New Democracy

I wish them Godspeed in this. Let's hope their neighbors leave them alone and follow suit...