Bhutan. Smoking ban in public places was introduced on March 1. The new law was a supplement to the ban on the sale of tobacco products introduced in November 2004. The government’s goal is to make Bhutan a smoke-free nation.
At the end of March, King Jigme Singye Wangchuk presented a proposal for a constitution for the kingdom. It will be the country’s first written constitution, and it replaces the royal decree of 1953 that gave the king total power. The proposal represents a transition to parliamentary democracy; two political parties will be formed and Bhutan will have a people-elected parliament with two chambers. The new constitution was also proposed to include rights such as freedom of the press and religious freedom, although Buddhism is called Bhutan’s “spiritual heritage”. King Wangchuk, who in recent years has transferred some of his power to a ministerial council, said the constitutional proposal would be sent to all the country’s residents who would decide on it in a referendum. Foreign analysts regarded the Constitution as a real democratization. Bhutanese politicians in exile,
In December, the king announced that he plans to abdicate in 2008, when the country will hold its first free elections. Until then, King Wangchuck will gradually transfer power to his successor, Crown Prince Chhoetse Penlop.
According to countryaah, Thimphu is the capital and one of the major cities within the country of Bhutan. The question of the more than 100,000 Bhutanese refugees who have been living in Nepal since the early 1990s remains unresolved. The governments of Bhutan and Nepal agreed in 2003 that some of the refugees, most of Hindu and Nepalese origin, would be repatriated, but this did not happen in 2005. In August, a few hundred refugees themselves tried to return to Bhutan via India, but Indian military stopped them. The trial was organized by political groups in the refugee camps who were criticized by the UNHCR for risking the lives of refugees. Among those who tried to return were children and the disabled. The UNHCR later warned that the increased oil prices would aggravate the situation in the refugee camps because half of the camps budget was already used for fuel.
In 2005, King Wangchuk was one of seven recipients of a new UN award for good environmental efforts. The king was allowed to share the award with the Bhutanese people. Bhutan has stricter anti-pollution laws than most developing countries, large portions of the forest are protected against harvesting and environmental protection is included in school education.