Monday, March 24, 2008

Election a sham, say refugees

Source: The Times Of India

Nearly 3 lakh people in Bhutan cast their vote on Monday in the kingdom’s first parliamentary election, which was promptly denounced as a sham by the refugee community of the Buddhist kingdom, now living in Nepal.

Over 1 lakh people, almost a sixth of the total population of the tiny nation, continue to be barred from their country, let alone take part in the much touted transition-to-democracy polls, putting a question mark on the whole electoral exercise so carefully orchestrated by the former king Jigme Singye Wangchuk.

"The election has no meaning," said an outraged Ghanshyam Timilsinha, who was evicted from his home in Danabari in eastern Bhutan 18 years ago when the Druk government began a crackdown on citizens of ethnic origin.

"It is a ploy to throw dust in the eyes of the international community. The election will put in power (former) king Jigme Wangchuk's men, who will rule through them. I too am a bona fide citizen of Bhutan. If I, and people like me, can't vote, what is the meaning of this election?" he asks.

After spending 18 years in the Beldangi camp in eastern Nepal, Timilsinha is finally flying out to the US this week, along with his wife, parents and three children.

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