CountryAAH, Bhutan and India's leaders signed a revised version of
the countries' friendship agreement from 1949 in February.
Instead, economic cooperation is now emphasized. The changes
gave Bhutan greater independence even though the country is
still very dependent on India.
In April and May, exercise elections were conducted in
two rounds before the real elections in 2008. The interest
in the pretense elections, in which four accomplished
parties participated, was small; about a third voted.
Already on December 31, 2007, elections were held for the
parliament's upper house with 25 seats. The voters were
appointed 20 by the members and the king the other five. It
was the country's first free elections after a hundred years
of absolute monarchy. More important, however, will be the
elections to the lower house in February and March, when new
parties are allowed to stand. Four parties had been
registered in 2007.
To join the new parties, Prime Minister Khandu Wangchuk
and six of his ministers had to resign in July. Kinzang
Dorji assumed the post of prime minister and formed an
interim government to govern the country until the
elections. The more than 100,000 Bhutanese refugees who have
been living in eastern Nepal since the early 1990s were not
allowed to participate in the exercise elections. At the end
of May, at least two died and sixty were injured by these
refugees as they tried to cross the Indian state of West
Bengal to return to Bhutan. Indian police shot at the
thousands of refugees trying to cross the Mechi border.
Although the governments of Bhutan and Nepal have had a
number of talks about the refugees since 1994, the issue
remains unresolved. Bhutan does not want to receive the
A law banning littering and pollution in the capital
Thimphu was introduced in October. Anyone who degrades can
be sentenced to just fine.