Penpa Tsering, a former speaker of the exiled Tibetan parliament, looks set to win the vote for the political leader, or Sikyong, of the exiled government of Dharamsala, India of Tibet.
With votes counted in the US on Friday, 33,924 votes have now been cast for Tsering, compared with 28,595 for rival candidate Aukatsang Kelsang Dorjee, former representative of the Tibetan spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama. Lama, according to the unofficial vote count of RFA.
Official results won’t be announced until May 14, but Tsering is currently leading with a comfortable spread of 5,329.
More than 83,000 Tibetans living in 26 countries around the world went to the polls on April 11 to vote in the third and final round of voting for Sikyong.
Lobsang Sangay, a Harvard-trained law scholar, has served two consecutive five-year terms as Sikyong, an office filled with popularly elected candidates since 2011. vote and will leave that position when his current term ends in May.
The May 14 election results will also elect 45 members of the Tibetan parliament in exile in the new seventeenth session, with 10 candidates representing each of the three traditional Tibetan provinces – U -tsang, Kham and Amdo – and two representatives of each of the four Tibetan provinces of the main schools of Buddhism and Pre-Buddhist Bonpo.
Two members will also be voted to represent each Tibetan community in exile in North and South America and Europe, and one from Australia and Asia, except India, Nepal and Bhutan.
The Tibetan community is estimated to include around 150,000 people living in 40 countries, mainly India, Nepal, North America and in Europe.
Formerly an independent country, Tibet was invaded and annexed by force 70 years ago, after which the Dalai Lama and his thousands of followers went into exile in India and other countries in the world.
Divisions persist in the Tibetan community in exile over the best way to promote the rights and freedoms of Tibetans living in China, with some calling for the restoration of independence lost as the army Chinese troops marched into Tibet in 1950.
Instead, the Central Administration of Tibet (CTA) and His Holiness the Dalai Lama adopted a policy approach called the Middle Way, accepting Tibet’s status as part of China. but urged greater cultural and religious freedom, including enhanced language rights, for Tibetans living under Beijing’s rule.
Both Tsering and Aukatsang supported the Middle Way.
Reported by RFA’s Tibet Service. Written in English by Richard Finney.