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Bhutan’s new leader vows to serve king, people PDF Print E-mail
Friday, 28 March 2008

Agence France-Presse . Thimphu

The man set to become Bhutan’s first elected prime minister after the country’s historic parliamentary polls said on Tuesday that he would look to guidance from the king who ordered the vote.

Jigmi Thinley’s party staged a stunning victory in the election proposed by the monarchy in a move to transform the tiny Buddhist nation, wedged between giant neighbours India and China, into a constitutional monarchy.

In his first address to the nation after his party won, Thinley indicated his group would continue to seek guidance from the revered royal family, which was expected to retain strong influence over the government.

‘I will endeavour to serve the king, the country and people with the deepest of commitment and loyalty,’ Thinley said in a statement published in a special evening edition of weekly newspaper Bhutan Observer.

Thinley, 55, said his party will ‘look to the future with confidence and knowledge that we will have the guidance and wisdom’ of King Jigme Singye Namgyel Wangchuck. Earlier Tuesday, the Druk Phuensum Tshogpa or Bhutan United Party, which won 44 of the 47 seats in the lower house said it will continue with the policies laid down by the royal rulers.

‘We will be guided by the past but now the process will be a democratic process,’ said Yeshey Zimba, one of the party’s winning candidates from the capital Thimphu. The sweep stunned even the DPT, but the party refrained from big celebrations in the deeply traditional and religious kingdom.

Bhutan’s election body is expected to certify the victory on April 5, giving the party the go-ahead to form a government. The kingdom’s move to democracy began in 2001, when former king Jigme Singye Wangchuck handed over the tasks of daily government to a council of ministers and stepped down in favour of his son in late 2006.

However, there was still confusion about when the new government would take charge. ‘No one knows when swearing-in will take place,’ a DPT official said.

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