By Phurbu Thinley
Dharamsala, Jan 19: The Central Election Commission on Wednesday announced the final lists of candidates for the final rounds of the 2011 Tibetan General Elections to be held worldwide later this year.
Chief Election Commissioner Mr Jamphel Choesang (Centre) and the two additional election commissioners, Ven. Geshe Rigzin Choedak (R) and Mr Jeper Yangkho Gyal, (L) at a press conference at the DIIR Hall in Dharamsala, India, Wednesday, Jan 19 2011. (Photo: Phayul/Norbu Wangyal)
The final rounds of the elections due to be held on March 20 will elect the third directly-elected Prime Minister (Kalon Tripa) of Tibet's government in exile and the members of the 15th Tibetan Parliament-in-Exile.
At a press conference held here this morning, the Chief Election Commissioner Mr Jamphel Choesang announced Dr Lobsang Sangay, a senior research fellow at the Harvard Law School, Mr Tenzin Namgyal Tethong, a former prime minister of the Tibetan Government-in-Exile, and Mr Tashi Wangdi, a former minister in the exile government, as the three final candidates for the Tibetan prime ministerial elections.
Following the hotly contested preliminary rounds of the prime ministerial election held in October last year, the Election Commission had shortlisted a total of top six candidates for the final round of its election.
The other three candidates – Mrs Gyari Dolma, the incumbent deputy speaker of the Tibetan Parliament-in-exile, Mr Lobsang Jinpa and Khorlatsang Sonam Topgyal – later withdrew their candidacy.
Out of the total votes cast by Tibetan exiles around the world in the preliminary race, Dr Sangay secured 22,489 votes, which is more than 10,000 votes ahead of the next highest voted candidate. Mr Tethong, Mrs Gyari, Mr Wangdi, Mr Jinpa and Mr Topgyal had secured 12319, 2733, 2101, 1545 and 605 votes respectively.
For the Parliamentary Elections, the election commission has finalised as many as 94 candidates to race for the 44 seats in the exile Tibetan Parliament.
These include 64 candidates for provincial elections, which include 23 candidates, including three voluntary candidates, for U-Tsang province; 21, including 1 voluntary candidate for Do-toe; and 20 candidates for Domey province.
The remaining 30 candidates are from the five major religious sects and, the North America and Europe regions.
While the religious sects have four candidates each, there are five candidates with 1 voluntary candidate each to elect from both North America and European regions.
Out of the 79,449 registered voters, little over 47,000 (approximately 61%) voted in the preliminary polls conducted on October 3.
Mr Choesang said his office was expecting considerable increase in the number of registered voters after it had announced fresh registration dates from November 30, 2010 to January 17, 2011 for eligible voters who had missed the preliminary elections.
He said the extended voter registration should accordingly reach the EC’s office by January 24, 2011.
Unlike in the past, the Election Commission this time had decided both the prime ministerial and parliamentary elections would take place on the same day both during their preliminary and final rounds.
Estimates show that some 120,000 of the approximately 150,000 Tibetan exiles worldwide are above the age of 18 and are eligible to vote. In the last prime ministerial election in 2006, 72,000 (60%) were registered to vote and, an estimated 26.8% (32,205 people) actually voted.
The forthcoming general elections will not only decide the third directly elected Tibetan PM, but will also determine the successor to the incumbent Kalon Tripa, marking the first democratic transfer of executive power in the history of the Tibetan nation.
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 is expected to complete his term in August this year. Like other democratic countries, the charter of the Tibetan exiles bars a candidate from serving more than two consecutive terms.
The Tibetan Government-in-Exile has been based in India since it was re-established outside Tibet since the Dalai Lama and the first wave of refugees fled Tibet in 1959, soon after Chinese occupied the country.
The Dalai Lama, who is revered by Tibetans as their supreme leader, has lately described himself as a “semi-retired” person, saying he has already delegated much of the administrative and political decisions to the democratically elected Prime Minister of the Tibetan Government-in-Exile.
The decision, the 76-year old Dalai Lama says, is pursuant to the “highest priority” given soon after coming into exile in 1959 to establishing a system of governance for the Tibetan people fully based on democratic principles.
His Holiness, however, insists, it would be his “moral responsibility” to continue to act as the “free spokesperson” of Tibetan people until a mutually satisfactory solution to the Tibet problem is found.
More recently the Tibetan leader announced that he was further contemplating complete retirement from Tibetan administrative matters, but clarified that it would not mean "complete disassociation" from the Tibetan cause.Click Here
for the list of candidates