Bhutan's Tshering Tobgay to become PM for second time

The election was dominated by serious economic challenges that have called into question the Himalayan kingdom's long-standing policy of prioritising "Gross National Happiness" over growth.
A Bhutanese woman carrying her child on her back shows the voting mark on her index finger after casting her vote in the national elections in Deothang, Bhutan. (Photo | AP)
A Bhutanese woman carrying her child on her back shows the voting mark on her index finger after casting her vote in the national elections in Deothang, Bhutan. (Photo | AP)

THIMPHU: Bhutanese voters have elected Tshering Tobgay to become prime minister for a second time after his party won nearly two-thirds of seats, the election commission said in results released Wednesday.

Tobgay, head of the liberal People's Democratic Party (PDP), who served as prime minister of the Himalayan kingdom from 2013 to 2018, won 30 of 47 seats in Tuesday's election, official figures showed.

The election was dominated by serious economic challenges that have called into question the Himalayan kingdom's long-standing policy of prioritising "Gross National Happiness" over growth.

Bhutan lies sandwiched between the globe's two most populous countries, China and India, who watched the vote with keen interest as they eye strategic contested border zones.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India, Bhutan's key trading partner, offered his "heartiest congratulations to my friend" Tobgay for winning the polls, according to a post on X, formerly Twitter.

Tobgay responded by thanking Modi.

"I too look forward to working closely again with you to nurture and strengthen the unique bonds of friendship and cooperation that our nations enjoy," Tobgay wrote in a message on X on Wednesday.

The 58-year-old, a former civil servant, is a passionate conservation advocate who holds a degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Pittsburgh and a Master's in public administration from Harvard.

Tobgay was also leader of the opposition in Bhutan's first parliament when it was established in 2008, soon after the start of the reign of the present king.

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