Lone woman withdraws from Tibetan polls

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

DHARAMSALA - The lone woman candidate in the election to the post of “Kalon Tripa,” the prime minister of the Tibetan government-in-exile, has withdrawn from the contest, an official said here Tuesday.

“Three contestants, including Dolma Gyari, withdrew their candidacy till the last date (Tuesday) for the withdrawal of nominations. Now there are three candidates, all male, for the March 20 elections,” Jamphel Choesang, chief election commissioner, told IANS.

Gyari is the deputy speaker in the parliament-in-exile.

Lobsang Sangey, senior fellow of Harvard Law School, diplomat Tenzin Namgyal Tethong and Tashi Wangdi, former representative of the Dalai Lama in Brussels, are now left in the race.

Sangey emerged the frontrunner winning the highest number of votes (22,489) in the primary poll held Oct 3 to nominate the candidates, Choesang said.

Tethong, who is also based in the US, got the second highest of 12,319 votes, while Gyari came up third with 2,733 votes. Wangdi won just over 1,000 votes.

During the run-up to the primary, many Tibetans had posed questions on internet to the prospective candidates.

One of the questions put to Sangey was: “What do you see as the key responsibilities of the next Kalon Tripa?”

He replied: “First, we have to define whether the Kalon Tripa is a leader or an administrator. If Kalon Tripa is simply an administrator, then experience - both institutional and personal - is a must. However, His Holiness (the Dalai Lama) himself has stressed that as our democracy progresses, the Kalon Tripa should assume more political leadership.”

Incumbent Samdhong Rinpoche became the first elected prime minister for a five-year term in September 2001 after the Dalai Lama called for the direct election of a political leader of the exiles.

Rinpoche cannot contest this time as the Tibetan charter bars any individual from holding the office for more than two terms.

As the Dalai Lama has turned 75, the Tibetans attach great importance to the upcoming general elections. They feel the major political leadership of the government-in-exile is going to rest on the shoulders of the prime minister.

The Dalai Lama and his supporters fled Tibet and took refuge in India when Chinese troops moved in and took control of capital Lhasa in 1959.

The prime ministerial election will be held along with the election for the 46-member parliament-in-exile based in Dharmasala.

In the 2006 polls, there were 72,000 registered voters. However, only 32,205 people (26.8 percent) exercised their franchise. This time there are over 76,000 voters.

Filed under: Politics

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