Bhutan gets first private newspaper

GUWAHATI, India, May 1 (AFP) – The first edition of Bhutan’s only privately-owned newspaper sold out within hours of hitting the stands amid ongoing constitutional moves towards democracy in the Himalayan kingdom. The weekly Bhutan Times went on sale Sunday and was snapped up rapidly, according to the website of the Kuensel newspaper, the official government weekly.

“With freedom of the press comes great responsibility,” Bhutans Prime Minister Lyonpo Sangay Ngedup was quoted as saying during the paper’s launch ceremony in the capital Thimphu on Sunday.

Thw weekly, the first new media venture in the country since the advent of television by the Bhutan Broadcasting Service in 1999, is financed by a group of private investors.

The 32-page launch edition carried as its main story Crown Prince Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchucks views on the kingdom’s evolution towards a multi-party democracy.

Until the Bhutan Times hit the stands, the government-controlled Kuensel was the only newspaper in the kingdom of about 635,000 people.

King Jigme Singye Wangchuck in December last year announced his landmark decision to abdicate the throne in favour of the Crown Prince before Bhutan adopts a constitution and elec