monks…..citizens?

This was something that surprised me to no end when it was implemented, and still does.
Monks in Bhutan are not allowed to vote. The reason, according to the election commission, is because the religious body is above and out of politics.
According to the constitution of Bhutan, (article 3.3)”Religious institutions and personalities shall remain above politics.”
Also “Article 7.6 states, “A Bhutanese citizen shall have the right to vote.”
Which must it be? Which article must we follow? That seemed to have been the dilemma of the EC. But the fact is that there is no real dilemma. Our constitution is quite an exquisite piece of document, if i may say so. It may well rival the American Declaration of Independence in its preciseness.
The constitution quite clearly states that every Bhutanese citizen has the right to vote. Is voting equal to participating in politics?
When it says that Religious institutions must remain above politics, it means that no party may be religion based, no Monk or personality chooses to stand for office, while still wearing the garb of a man (or woman?) of religion.
Voting is quite, quite removed from religion. What kind of healthcare we receive, what kind of laws we have, our country’s economy, all these will ultimately aslo make a difference in the life of a monk. As an individual, a monk is merely voicing his choice by voting.
If we deny any individual their fundamental right, we are not “putting them above politics.”
It is straight and simple. We are denying them their fundamental right, as mentioned under the Constitution of Bhutan.

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