Bhutan appoints interim government ahead of national election

By Gopal Sharma

KATHMANDU (Reuters) – Bhutan’s king appointed a nine-member interim government on Wednesday to oversee the Himalayan nation’s parliamentary election, to be held within three months, a palace statement said.

The free vote will be the fourth to be held since democracy was established in 2008 in Bhutan, a country of fewer than 800,000 people nestled between China and India.

The interim government will be headed by Chief Justice Chogyal Dago Rigdzin and “enable the election commission to hold free and fair elections”, a statement posted on King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck’s official Facebook page said.

Earlier in the day, outgoing Prime Minister Lotay Tshering, who heads the governing Druk Nyamrup Tshogpa party, held a final meeting of his cabinet and said his government had completed its five-year term successfully “without any fear or favour”.

Bhutan dissolved its 47-member National Assembly – the lower house of parliament – this week at the end of its five-year term.

Analysts said the election commission will fix the dates for voting, in which five parties are expected to compete, and a new government is expected to be in place within 90 days.

(Reporting by Gopal Sharma; writing by Shivam Patel; editing by Mark Heinrich)