India welcomes Bhutan elections

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New Delhi, Jan 1 (UNI) India today congratulated Bhutan government for successful conduct of the first ever elections for the country's National Council (Upper House) and assured support for establishment of institutions required for consolidation of Democratic Constitutional Monarchy in the country.

Elections were held in the Himalayan kingdom yesterday for 15 Dzongkhags while for the remaining five, these will be held on January 29.

Describing the holding of the elections as a ''great moment in Bhutan's history,'' the External Affairs Ministry said it was also an important step in the country's transition into a new system of governance.

''India is committed to extending full support in the establishment of institutions required for the consolidation of Democratic Constitutional Monarchy in Bhutan,'' a spokesman of the External Affairs Ministry said.

The spokesman said India and Bhutan share uniquely warm and cordial relations characterised by close consultations, maturity, complete trust and mutual understanding and are based on the foundation of shared interests and mutually beneficial cooperation. ''They are an exemplary model of good-neighbourly relations,'' he said.

India has shared its resources and experience with Bhutan during its period of transition to a democratic constitutional monarchy, and has reiterated its commitment to providing all possible assistance within its resources to the Royal Government of Bhutan.

India is assisting Bhutan by supplying Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) and deepening linkages between the Election Commissions of both countries in conduct of elections.

The Election Commission of India had deputed three observers who witnessed the polling for National Council elections in Bhutan.

Indian security agencies have been cooperating with their Bhutanese counterparts in maintaining law and order in the border areas, the spokesman added.

UNI RB SHB RN2108

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