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EU to observe first NA Elections
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EU Election Observation Mission (EOM)
Members of an European Union Election Observation Mission (EU EOM) team have arrived in Thimphu to observe and assess the run up to the National Assembly election and the March 24 poll day.

Five experts from the team reached the capital on February 22, and 10 more led by the chief observer of the mission, Mr. Javier Pomés Ruiz, a member of the European Parliament, will be here shortly. Nine of them will be deployed to other parts of the country until poll day.

Deputy chief observer, Luis Martinez-Betanzos, told Kuensel that the mission provided support to the host countries, which invited them, to hold a standard election.

"We'll assess and monitor the election process, make sure everything is within the constitutional framework and in accordance with regional and international standards," he said.

The EU EOM works independently with the mandate to conduct a comprehensive assessment of electoral process and offers an impartial, balanced and informed analysis of the elections.

It assesses all aspects of the electoral process, including delimitation of constituencies, registration of voters and candidates, training of election staff, voter education, media coverage, campaign and the preparations for election day, as well as the appeals process.

On poll day, observers will visit polling stations to observe opening, voting, counting and the aggregation of results.

The deputy chief observer said assessment will be done in line with human rights aspects in the election process, which includes "right to be elected" and "right to vote".

The mission also includes media analysts who will monitor media coverage during the election using international methodological standards of quantitative and qualitative analysis.

Press expert, Andrea Malnati, said that they would monitor the main media in the country, especially the state television, Kuzoo radio, and the three newspapers.

"Quantitative analysis will include details like how much time and space was allocated to both parties and candidates, see if it is balanced, and also check the tone of coverage towards the candidates and quality of news reported," he said.

The media monitoring will inform the EU EOM on the performance of media through regular reports and it would also form part of the overall evaluation of the election process.

Meanwhile, observers from different professional backgrounds from 13 member countries, who will arrive this week, will travel to all regions of the country and come out with an assessment.

The deputy chief observer said that the mission will not make any statement until the election was over and will be doing so within 48 hours after the election.

"We're here not to interfere with the process but to help through study and observation and make recommendations for future elections," said Luis Martinez-Betanzos.

Contributed by Kesang Dema, Kuensel, Bhutan's National Newspaper, March 2008


European Union to observe first National Assembly Elections in the Kingdom of Bhutan
The European Commission will deploy a 15-member strong EU Election Observation Mission (EOM) for the first elections of a National Assembly in Bhutan scheduled to take place on 24 March 2008.

The EU EOM, led by Mr. José Javier Pomés Ruiz, Member of the European Parliament, will go out on 22 February and will stay for a period of seven weeks on the ground. The EU attaches great importance to the process of democratic transition in Bhutan, including the elections and the adoption of the constitution.

Benita Ferrero-Waldner, Commissioner for External Relations and European Neighbourhood Policy, said: "The elections for the National Assembly of the Kingdom of Bhutan are a milestone in the country's history: they will allow the Bhutanese people to exercise their democratic right to vote and to determine their own future. On this basis, the new Parliament will have to enact the new Constitution, and continue the path of democratic transition, paying special attention to preserving the national cultural identity and values of Bhutan."

The National Assembly elections will be the first multi-party general elections to take place in Bhutan, which had no parliamentary monarchy until now. The elections are part of a gradual top-down peaceful movement to democracy led by the monarchy. Over the last few years a written Constitution was drafted, several new constitutional bodies were established, and the National Council (the upper house of the Parliament) was elected. The National Assembly elections on 24 March will now complete this process.

The Election Observation Mission will consist of a Core Team of 6 election experts including the Chief Observer to be deployed on 22 February 2008 to co-ordinate the assessment of the entire election process and 9 Long Term Observers (LTOs) to be deployed one week later to assess the campaign period, the pre-election preparations around the country and to observe voting, counting and the tabulation of results. It is planned that the EU EOM will remain in the country for up to 10 days after election day to observe the post-election period.

EU Election Observation Missions are an important instrument for building confidence in the democratic processes of a country and are deployed in line with the EU's commitment to promote democracy, human rights and respect for the rule of law. The EU has made available some 1 million from the European Initiative for Democracy and Human Rights (EIDHR), for this mission.

The European Commission is one of Bhutan's most important development partners, assisting the country in meeting the Millennium Development Goals by providing support to Renewable Natural Resources, Trade Facilitation and Good Governance.

Source: European Commission, January 2008
more Information
EU Election Observation Mission - Bhutan
Election 2008: Statement of EU EOM (March 2008)
External Links
Bhutan Government Election Commission
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