By Phurbu Thinley
Dharamsala, Sep 16: The Tibetan Parliament on Thursday did not approve a proposed amendment to the Tibetan Charter (Constitution) that could lift the two-term limit on the post of the Prime Minister of the Tibetan Government-in exile.
Tibetan Prime Minister Samdhong Rinpoche leaves parliament after the morning session in Dharamsala, India, Thursday, September 16, 2010. (Phayul photo)
The amendment bill if passed could pave a way for the immensely popular Tibetan Prime Minister Prof Samdhong Rinpoche to seek re-election for a third consecutive term when the elections are held next year.
The Tibetan PM, however, raised objections to the proposed amendment in the House here this morning, saying such a move could pose obstacle to the progressive growth of democracy in the exile Tibetan polity.
Like many democratic countries, the Charter of the Tibetan Exiles bars a candidate from serving more than two consecutive terms.
Although the amendment bill was introduced in the parliament by majority, the Tibetan prime minister appealed that there was no need for a debate on the proposed amendment in the house.
The house later voted without debate and did not get the two-third majority required to approve the proposed legislation. Only 11 lawmakers out of the 43-member parliament voted in favour of the proposed bill.
Rinpoche also objected to the nature, intent and timing of introducing such a amendment bill in the parliament.
By proposing such an amendment bill at a point when the election process are already put into full swing will not serve any purpose other than sending wrong and confusing signals in the democratic process, Rinpoche said.
Even if such a proposed amendment bill had been brought during the last session in March, it would have already been too late, he added.
Lawmakers supporting the proposed amendment, however, say it was brought in the house on the basis of the popular "will of the people". Critics on the other hand reject their claims and have called it a temporary publicity stunts to win public support ahead of the upcoming general elections.
In 2001, Prof Samdhong Rinpoche became the first directly elected prime minister after the Dalai Lama, as part of an effort to further democratize the Tibetan polity towards the late 1990’s, called for a directly "elected political leader" of the Tibetans living in exile.
Rinpoche is currently running his second consecutive term in the office after he secured a landslide victory in the 2006 elections receiving more than 29,000 votes (90.72%) of the total votes cast.
Rinpoche will complete his term in August next year.
The 14th Tibetan Parliament-in-exile, which has been in session since September 7, will end tomorrow. This is the second last session of the 14th Tibetan Parliament before it dissolves after the March session next year.
The forthcoming general elections will decide the third directly elected Tibetan PM and also the successor to the incumbent Kalon Tripa, marking the first democratic transfer of executive power in the history of the Tibetan nation. It will also see the election of members who will form the 15th Tibetan Parliament-in-Exile.