More than 83,000 Tibetans living in 26 countries around the world went to the polls on Sunday to vote in the third and final round of voting for the political leader, or Sikyong, of the government. death is based in Dharamsala of Tibet, the Central Authority of Tibet, with final results. Results will be announced on May 14.
Penpa Tsering, former speaker of the Tibetan parliament in exile, and Aukatsang Kelsang Dorjee, former representative of the Tibetan spiritual leader, His Holiness the Dalai Lama, are the leaders in the current race after winning the war. won in the previous two voting rounds.
In polls conducted by RFA of 961 voters in India, the US, Canada and Europe, 547 people said they voted for Penpa Tsering, with 414 people saying they voted for Aukatsang Kelsang Dorjee, showing that the race is over.
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.
Despite the threat of the COVID-19 pandemic, Tibetans appeared in large numbers to register and vote. But in Nepal – a country politically and economically close to China where Tibetan affairs are very sensitive – police have been deployed at about 30 Tibetan monasteries and two schools to stop joining.
“The Nepali government is always trying to sabotage the elections in Tibet,” a Tibetan resident in the Nepali capital Kathmandu told RFA’s Tibet Agency, on condition of anonymity.
“In addition to uniformed police, there are also many plainclothes officials deployed around the city, which makes it difficult to vote smoothly,” he added.
Tibetans were banned by Nepal from voting in exile elections, but residents in remote areas of the country conducted their own secret ballot a week earlier, sources told RFA .
Tibetans vote in Strasbourg, France, April 11, 2021. Photo sent to RFA
In France, where the nationwide COVID course is in effect, the country’s Tibetan community still has special permission to hold elections on April 11, Paris resident Lobsang Khedup said.
“Due to the lockout here in France, people needed a good reason to go more than 10 kilometers from their home, but our local Tibet Election Commission was able to get one,” Khedup said. special letter permitting us to run the election, ”Khedup said.
In Dharamsala, India, where the Tibetan government in exile is located, voters voted in 16 different polling booths, while in the Ladakh region, northwestern India, the electoral rate in the Final higher than the previous round, Tsetan Wangchuk, local electoral commissioner. in the Leh city of Ladakh, said.
“We saw a larger number of voters take part in this last election, so I felt that when there was this much participation from the public, it meant that,” Wangchuk said. People are more responsible.
Lobsang Jinpa, a former personal secretary at his Office, said: “Voters are very attentive, and there seems to be a considerable level of public vigilance about their candidate choices, which This has not happened in the previous days. His Holiness the Dalai Lama, currently living in Virginia, United States.
Meanwhile, in New York, Gyaltsen Choden, 101, a retired civil servant in the exile government, was escorted to the polls by his son.
“My father, who devoted his life to serving the Tibetan government in exile, insisted on going to vote today, because Tibetans in Tibet do not have the right to free elections,” he said. said the young man. “It’s a privilege to be able to elect our own leaders, so we escorted him here today.”
Commenting on the day’s vote, the outgoing Sikyong Lobsang Sangay said that Tibet’s implementation of democracy in exile “reflects the real aspirations of our brothers and sisters in Tibet.”
“In this way, we are sending a message directly to Beijing that although they do not have democracy or give freedom to the Tibetans in Tibet, we Tibetans in exile have was given a gift of democracy under the great leadership of His Holiness the Dalai Lama. Lama. “
Formerly an independent country, Tibet was invaded and annexed by force 70 years ago, after which the Dalai Lama and his thousands of followers were in exile in India and other countries. 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 The Chinese army entered 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 pioneers in the current competition for Sikyong support the Middle Way.
Reported by RFA’s Tibet Service. Translation of Tenzin Dickyi. Written in English by Richard Finney.