Election Violence

Bhutan had an unsolved domestic issue with minority group which is ethnic Nepalis 1800s. The country encountered violent ethnic unrest and anti-government protests in Southern part of the country pressing for greater democracy and respect for Nepali rights since during 1990. This conflict caused thousands of ethnic Nepalis flee to Nepal. During this time, about 1,000 ethnic Nepalis were deported from Bhutan because of strict enforcement of the citizenship regulation. For years, the refugees demanded their rights to return. With the situation remained unsolved, some militant ethnic Nepali groups threatened to disrupt the elections in 2008.

In 2008, Bhutan had its first elections in the political history. Prior to the elections, a few bomb blasts hit the various parts of the country, including Thimphu, the capital city, and districts of Samste, Chukha and Dagana. The attacks were blamed on groups fighting for the rights of ethnic Nepalis who fled the country in 1991.

While elections may be a key component of democracy, Bhutanese democracy will still remain fragile if it remains exclusive. The government needs to include the ethnic groups and those who have refugee status, and allow discussion and debate of the ethnic issues, which is prohibited under election laws, should be allowed during the campaign.



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