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    Bhutan gets third political party

    Thimphu, May 6. (PTI): Bhutan's transition from an absolute monarchy to democracy has taken another leap forward with a third political party being formed to fight the general elections next year.

    Retired civil servants and defence officials, and businessmen have joined forces to form the Bhutan National Party (BNP).

    "There are around 90-100 workers currently and the party is open to anyone who is interested and who wants to make a difference," said Dasho Penjor Dorji, a former dzongda (district officer) of Chukha and acting chairman of the party.

    Dorji said though BNP has been active for more than three months, but decided to announce the formation "only at the right time".

    "It was not the right time but the Chief Election Commissioner (Dasho Kunzang Wangdi) knows about the party," Dorji was quoted as saying by the Kuensel.

    He said, their prospective leader or president would be decided soon.

    Two parties -- People's Democratic Party (PDP) and Bhutan People United Party (BPUP) -- have been already been formed in Bhutan.

    Meanwhile, the news of formation of the new party has been welcomed by civil servants and businessmen.

    "At least now we will have a ruling party and an opposition by default," said Karma, a civil servant.

    Another civil servant keen on joining the fray said: "It will surely mean more options for people like me."

    "The official party registration is only two months away but why did BNP choose to keep it low profile when other parties were publicly announcing about themselves?" questioned Sonam, who works in the private sector.

    Officials and analysts have said that at least three credible political parties are needed for Himalayan kingdom's smooth transition to democracy.

    "More parties means a competitive and credible democratic elected government in 2008," said a retired civil servant.

    "If we have just two parties, there could be a strong ruling party and a weak opposition which would result in a poor democracy," he said.


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