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Bhutan Prepares to Become a Democracy

Voters in the tiny Himalayan nation of Bhutan go to the polls Monday for elections that will complete the nation's transformation from monarchy to a democracy.

They will be electing members of the 47-seat lower house of parliament, known as the National Assembly. Most members of the 20-member upper house were elected in a January vote.

The two main parties vying for seats are both led by men close to the king, and analysts say they are ideologically similar. Both party leaders have already served terms as prime minister, and one of them, Sangay Ngedup, is a member of the royal family.

Bhutan's 28-year-old King Jigme Khesar Namgyal Wangchuck is leading the campaign for democracy started by his father nearly two decades ago.

Under the new constitution, the king will become head of state.

Security has been tightened for the polls following a series of small bomb blasts this year blamed on rebel groups.

Election officials also are concerned about making sure people in remote areas can get to polling stations.

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