Bhutan King Jigme Singye Wangchuck stepped aside and made his son Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck the new ruler of the secluded mountainous nation inspiring hope that the new King will transform the nation into a parliamentary democracy.
The new Western-educated King, who will assume control a year earlier than the scheduled 2008 ascension, said that he will “take the country forward by following” his father’s “legacy” of handing administrative “responsibilities to the people.” His father has already circulated a draft constitution that would end an almost 100 years of monarchy in Bhutan after general elections in 2008. Per this Constitution, the king will remain the head of state but a Parliament with elected leaders would have power to impeach the monarch with a two-third majority.
The new king studied in a boarding school in Massachusetts before getting a degree from Oxford. He has also traveled the country eliciting views on furthering the radical political changes that his father initiated. Passionately determined to protect its unique environment and ancient culture steeped in Buddhism, Bhutan is a highly xenophobic nation that allows only 6000 foreign tourists who are highly managed. Television was allowed only in 1999 and foreign media is still highly restricted.