Tibetans vote to elect new PM

Tibetans vote to elect new PM

Elections held across the globe pass off peacefully; results on April 27

 Going for change: Buddhist monks line up with their green books to cast their votes during the polling to choose the next exile Tibetan Prime Minister and the members of the Tibetan parliament-in-exile in Bylukuppe on Sunday. DH photoNo untoward incident was reported, unlike during the pre-elections last year when several votes polled in Nepal and Bhutan were not counted in the primary round. The result will be declared on April 27.

Votes were also cast for electing 43 new parliamentarians who will constitute the 15th Assembly of the Tibetans. The elections are significant given the changing dynamic of Tibetan political affairs. The elections were held in the backdrop of a “defiant” Dalai Lama sticking to his guns on the issue of his retirement even as the outgoing Tibetan Parliament has asked the Buddhist leader to reconsider his stand.

Jamphel Choesang, Tibetan chief election commissioner said Tibetans settled in India, Nepal, Bhutan, the United States, European countries, Australia, Japan, Russia and other countries have exercised their franchise to elect the prime minister and 43 members of the Tibetan Parliament-in-exile. The outgoing Prime Minister-in-exile, Prof Samdhong Rinpoche, was the first elected prime minister serving a five-year term beginning September 2001. That was when the Dalai Lama called for a directly elected political leader of the exiled Tibetans. Against three in fray now, Rinponche was the lone candidate then and was reelected in 2006 as prime minister. The constitution of the Tibetans bars the prime minister from holding the post for more than two terms.

Dr Lobsang Sangay is the hot favourite for the post of prime minister, at least going by his score in the pre-elections. During the pre-election voting, Dr Sangay polled 24,890 votes. His closest contender, Tenzin Namgyal was way behind notching 12,319 votes.

After his primary education in Darjeeling, Dr Sangay did his law degree from Delhi University and left for the USA in 1995. He did his doctorate from Harvard Law School in 2004. Dr Sangay is well regarded for steering the Tibetan cause across the globe and is credited for having arranged five conferences between the Tibetan and Chinese scholars.
His closest contender, Tenzin Namgyal, has been associated with several campaigns in support of the Tibetan movement. He’s also been Dalai Lama’s representative in New York and Washington. He’s credited for the rehabilitation of at least 1,000 Tibetans in the USA. There are over 83,000 registered Tibetan voters. As many as 64 candidates are vying for the 43 Parliament seats.

In the Bylukuppe refugee camp, more than 8,000 Buddhist monks and citizens exercised their franchise.

The Tibetans, who have just celebrated their New Year, ‘Losar,’ took part in the voting enthusiastically since morning. They showed their ID cards, took the ballot papers and exercised their franchise. Polling booths were set up in a systematic manner and voting was by secret ballot. Two seats have been reserved for women in the Tibetan Parliament.

Tibetan youths who have attained 18 years of age appeared glad to cast their votes. Candidates are contesting in their individual capacities and not on the basis of parties.
Of the 46 seats in the Tibetan Parliament, Buddhist monks will be nominated to three seats. Of the remaining 43 seats, 10 each are from the Yu Tsang and Central Tibetan Buddhist centres.

Two candidates each will be elected from seats in America and Europe. The rest of the candidates will be elected from other camps.