Dalai Lama to step down

The message from the revered Tibetan leader and 1989 Nobel Peace Prize winner will be read Monday, the first day of the budget session of the Tibetan parliament-in-exile starting at Mcleodganj, 10 km from this hill town, the abode of the Dalai Lama and hundreds of exiled Tibetans.

The 14th Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso, 75, is likely to announce his retirement from some of the activities he has been carrying out in public life in exile in the over five decades since 1959 when he arrived in India.

At his annual address to Tibetans and the international community delivered Thursday morning here, the Dalai Lama made his retirement plans amply clear.

"As early as the 1960s, I have repeatedly stressed that Tibetans need a leader, elected freely by the Tibetan people, to whom I can devolve power. Now, we have clearly reached the time to put this into effect," the Dalai Lama announced in his speech delivered in Tibetan.

"During the forthcoming 11th session of the 14th Tibetan Parliament in Exile, which begins on 14th March, I will formally propose that the necessary amendments be made to the Charter for Tibetans in Exile, reflecting my decision to devolve my formal authority to the elected leader," he said.

"Since I made my intention clear I have received repeated and earnest requests both from within Tibet and outside, to continue to provide political leadership. My desire to devolve authority has nothing to do with a wish to shirk responsibility."

"It is to benefit Tibetans in the long run. It is not because I feel disheartened. Tibetans have placed such faith and trust in me that as one among them I am committed to playing my part in the just cause of Tibet. I trust that gradually people will come to understand my intention, will support my decision and accordingly let it take effect."

Sources in the Tibetan parliament-in-exile said Dalai Lama would announce retirement only from his ceremonial responsibilities as head of the government but not from his role as spiritual leader of Tibetans.

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