The third national convention of the Association of Bhutanese in America (ABA) has begun in Atlanta, Georgia. BNS will blog the event live from the convention hall. The live reporting is done by Pashupati Timsina from Atlanta in Georgia while the online update is done by TP Mishra from Raleigh in North Carolina.
9.15 AM: The formal registration process begins. Participants coming from outside of the State Guests are stepping in to register for the convention
9.45 AM: The registration process continues. All most all members of the board of directors including chairman DP Basnet seen inside the hall. The Dias is decorated well; the banner containing convention details is seen placed at the back of the Dias. Flags of both Bhutan and USA waves on the Dias. Participants from various States from across the USA continue to step in
10:20 AM: Registration continues. At least 50 individuals have formally registered. Organizer expects more registration. The onoing World Cup Football between ‘Germany and Argentina’ have been cited by many as a reason for the delay of participants’ entry into hall from venue-near-by area, Atlanta
10:25: Hari Acharya of ABA informs that the formal program begins after five minute. Participants entry continues
10: 45 AM: TP Mishra of BNS reaches out to Dr. DNS Dhakal, who is now in North Carolina, for a brief comment. Dhakal says such convention has been proved helpful in establishing our own identity. “It is good to know that our fellow Bhutanese are trying to establish our own identity,” says Dhakal, adding that as a political activist he is yet to see if such convention or formation of organisations in long-run would be a part of contribution for the establishment of true democracy in Bhutan. Dhakal also comments that division among the resettled refugees, however, have been noticed here in USA
11:18 AM: The organisers are displaying ABA’s activity report in a projector
11:20-11:55 AM: Hari Acharya, board of director of ABA briefed the participants about various provisions for getting into ABA. Acharya also informed about their “ongoing” project in Maryland. “ABA will focused on service to the community and development of the community in the days ahead.” Acharya further urged exiled Bhutanese to take membership of ABA and try to change the working procedures in accordance with their wish
12: 15 PM: Questions-answer session begins. All members of board of directors sitting on Dias infront of the participants to answer questions raised by the floor. Around 100 people seen inside convention hall
12: 50 PM: Participation of 13 different States from across the USA has been just confirmed. The questions-answer session continues
1: 30 PM: At least nine participants raised questions, most of them included about their concern for unity with OBCA. Birendra Dhakal, DP Basnet, Ganesh Subedi and Hari Acharya from ABA answered the questions of the floor. As far the questions regarding unity with OBCA was concerned, the board of directors opine that ABA is always open for unification with OBCA. Participants also raised the questions about the failure of ABA for not being able to come out with “reliable outreach program” to places where Bhutanese refugees have been resettled in USA. A majority of the questions were clearly hinted at “unification” of ABA and OBCA, for which the panelists vowed their committment for possible unity.
1.35 PM: Lunch time begins. We will continue to blog live about the event
1:40 PM: Based on the fact that many wish for the formation of one national level organisation of Bhutanese in USA, and that the concern for the unification of ABA/OBCA is growing, BNS is attempting to reach out to the Chairman of OBCA for his brief comments and thoughts
2.05 PM: Finally, TP Mishra of BNS catches Yam Kharel, newly elected Chairman of OBCA over phone. Before opining on BNS query, Kharel extends his best wishes to ABA for its successful completion of the ongoing convention. “I wish that the convention will come out with a good avenue in according to the wish of the ground-level people,” said Kharel, adding- “The ground voice floating in around is that we should not have two national level organization.
As an individual and as the chairman of OBCA, I second this demand and thought of the people.” Kharal further opines that his organization is ready for the unification with other organizations. “I have felt that the OBCA/ABA unification certainly will strengthen the spirit of the Bhutanese community in America. The unification will generate wiser ideas, doubtless support and stronger commitment from far and wide.”
“The most important thing that every visible icon on the screen should selflessly and seriously second is that- ABA/OBCA unification will permanently erode all the barriers of dis-unification from the past, in the present and future. Thus, I see if we “truly” want to work for the community, unification is genuine,” added Kharel.
2:45 PM: After-lunch session begins. ABA declares the formation of election comission that includes Narayan Katel, Mitra Ghaley and Chimmi Dorji Wangchuk. Discussions on ‘how to conduct election’ keeps going. Number of attendees of the conference has decreased after lunch time; around 60 people seen inside convention hall
3:00 PM: List of the candidate for the board of directors comes out. It include Dr. Purna Chhetri, Khageswar Mishra, Puja Pradhan, Mukti Gurung, TB Bhandari, Jiwan Subba, Bishnu Pradhan, Rabi Gurung and Rajen Giri. It is reportedly learnt that only the members of ABA will be allowed to caste “vote” for the position of board of directors. According to the by-laws of ABA, new directors and current directors to fill the vacant position shall be elected or re-elected by the voting members at the Annual General meetings in accordance with the provision in Article 5.1.2. Directors shall be elected on the basis of maximum votes secured.
3.12 PM: Candidates for the board of directors addressing the convention participants with their short-election-campaign speeches.
3.20 PM: Dr. Purna Chhetri addressing the participants of the convention says that he is in favor of “unification” of ABA/OBCA. He also points out on the need to address the problems faced by freshly resettled Bhutanese in USA
3: 40 PM: Voting begins; voters are casting their vote in a ballot box. It is reportedly learnt that voting was also done through electronic means i.e. email by ABA members
4:00 PM: Voting session almost comes to the end. The election commission is seen busy counting the votes. Participants are eager to hear the result of the vote
4:o5 PM: At a time when the vote-counting session continues, TP Mishra reaches out to RP Subba, political analyst, writer and a community leader in Virginia for brief comments. Subba says such convention indicates that we are trying to move forward in an organized way. “It is perhaps sad that we have two national level organizations for the same purpose and established with almost the same objectives,” says Subba, adding that the majority of Bhutanese are neither for ABA nor for OBCA.
“All they wish is unity and a single national level organization.” Subba further opines that this third force can be taken as another organization, which is the strongest one. “I strongly believe that there is no alternative to “unification” at this hour.”
4:25 PM: Election result declared. Dr. Purna Chhetri bagged 54 votes followed by Rabi Gurung with the same number of votes. Jiwan Subba convinced with 52 while Puja Pradhan scores 49 votes.
Meanwhile, Mukti Gurung bagged 47 votes followed by Bishnu Pradhan and Rajen Giri with 44 votes each and TB Bhandari receives 27 votes. All of these newly elected members of board of directors were welcomed to the Dias by DP Basnet with “khada“. It is reportedly learnt that the tenure for Hari Bangaley and Bahadur Subba, who have been recently nominated as the members of board of directors, has not yet been completed, thus they will hold the same position until ABA’s next convention.
4: 45 PM: According to the by-laws of ABA, Chairman and Executive Director should be elected by the members of the board of directors. Citing this reason, the newly elected board of directors are holding a close-door meeting to disscuss on “when and how” the election/nomination of Chairman and Executive Director should take place. For floor, its a break time
4.50 PM: The close-door meeting finalised that they will publicize the name of Chairman and Executive Director along with four other members for board of directors by 4pm tomorrow. It is reported that extensive discussions from among the newly elected board of directors will finalise the name of the chairman and Executive Director. With a vote of thanks from Birendra Dhakal, on behalf of organising comittee members, to everyone, today’s session concludes. ABA has scheduled a DJ night for the participants at 7PM today.
Live reporting for today closes here!