Europe South Asia Asia Pacific Americas Middle East Africa BBC Homepage World Service Education

Front Page



UK Politics







Talking Point
On Air
Low Graphics

Wednesday, July 1, 1998 Published at 17:22 GMT 18:22 UK

World: South Asia

King's power curbed

The King is relinquishing some of his powers

Bhutan's National Assembly has voted to make royal appointees to the cabinet face an election in the Assembly for the first time.

BBC correspondent Subir Bhaumik reports from Bhutan on the political reforms
Observers describe the move to curb King Jigme Singye Wangchuk's powers in the tiny Himalayan Kingdom of Bhutan as the end of an era.

It follows another big change in political life in Bhutan last week when the King dissolved his cabinet and dropped several ministers who had served for more than 20 years.

After the vote on Wednesday he put forward six more cabinet nominees - relatively young civil servants - who the assembly approved by a large margin.

[ image: The tiny kingdom nestles in the Himalayan mountains]
The tiny kingdom nestles in the Himalayan mountains
The King's supporters say the changes fit into Wangchuk's vision of a slow transition to democracy.

But his critics believe the cabinet reshuffle is a political gimmick intended to give the world a false impression that Bhutan is indeed heading for democracy.

Correspondents say the pro-democracy movement is split. One party - the United Front for Democracy in Bhutan - wants to intensify the campaign for greater democracy.

[ image:  ]
The other main party, the Appeals Movements Co-ordination Council, wants to concentrate on bringing home thousands of Bhutanese refugees who have been living in Nepal for almost ten years because of a restrictive citizenship law.

The political reforms are not the only change to have hit this isolated kingdom of 600,000 people in the last month. The King, a football fan, made an exception to the normal ban on television by putting up giant screens around the capital to broadcast the World Cup.

The government is now reportedly examining whether to set up its own television service.

Advanced options | Search tips

Back to top | BBC News Home | BBC Homepage | ©

Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East | South Asia

Relevant Stories

03 Jul 98 | South Asia
Bhutan gives in to World Cup fever

Internet Links

Official Bhutan homepage

Amnesty International report on Bhutan

Bhutan tourist information

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites.

In this section

Sharif: I'm innocent

India's malnutrition 'crisis'

Tamil rebels consolidate gains

From Sport
Saqlain stars in Aussie collapse

Pakistan fears Afghan exodus

Hindu-Buddhist conference in Nepal

Afghan clerics issue bin Laden fatwa

Culture awards at Asian festival

Gandhi pleads for husband's killer

UN condemns Afghan bombing

Gandhi prize for Bangladeshi