By Kalsang Rinchen
Dharamsala, March 29 – A five – member "Constitutional Amendment Drafting Committee" representing both Kashag (Cabinet) and the Parliament in exile was formed yesterday as per a resolution passed unanimously on the last day of the 14th Tibetan parliament's regular session (budget session) that concluded last week.
The committee is formed of Speaker Penpa Tsering, Kalon Tripa Samdhong Rinpoche (prime minister), Deputy Speaker Dolma Gyari, Education Kalon (Education Minister) Thupten Lungrik & former speaker Pema Jungney.
The Tibetan parliament had a consensus after heated debates over several days to amend the Charter of Tibetans in Exile paving way for the Dalai Lama's proposal to relinquish his political powers vested in him by the Charter.
The members of the parliament also agreed to hold a “Special Session” for the implementation of the amendments to the Charter. The lawmakers further agreed that they were bound by a “special responsibility” to find a logical conclusion to the matter before the current parliament dissolves in May this year after completing its full five-year term.
In drafting the amendment bill, the committee is required to consult legal and constitutional experts and also take into consideration the concerns expressed by the Tibetan lawmakers during their debates in the parliament session. The committee will present the draft of the amendment bill to the Parliamentary Secretariat by April 11, 2011.
In the resolution, the parliament also agreed to host a “Second Tibetan National General Meeting” towards the third week of May to deliberate on ways to still accommodate a special symbolic role for the Dalai Lama in the Charter of Tibetans in Exile. The MP elect for 15th Tibetan Parliament will also be invited to this meeting.
The final outcome would then be discussed and implemented during a “Special Session” of the parliament, the dates for which are yet to be finalised.
His Holiness the Dalai Lama, in his March 10 statement to the nation, said he would devolve his political authority to an elected leader saying “As early as the 1960s, I have repeatedly stressed that Tibetans need a leader, elected freely by the Tibetan people, to whom I can devolve power. Now, we have clearly reached the time to put this into effect.”
Three days later when the Tibetan Parliament in exile met for its budget session, the Tibetan leader sent a statement that asked the Tibetan Parliament-in-Exile to formally legalise his decision. “Now, a decision on this important matter should be delayed no longer. All the necessary amendments to the Charter and other related regulations should be made during this session so that I am completely relieved of formal authority,” the Dalai Lama had said in the statement.
The Tibetan parliament in exile, however, appealed the exiled Tibetan leader to reconsider his decision in a resolution passed on March 18 that was rejected by the Tibetan leader the same day. On March 19, the Tibetan leader made a public appeal asking Tibetans both inside and outside of Tibet to accept his decision, insisting it was the best way forward for the Tibetan people to overcome fundamental challenges in the long run.
The Parliament on March 21 constituted a high-level special committee headed by Prime Minister Prof. Samdhong Rinpoche with the task of finding ways to amend the Tibetan charter to facilitate the smooth transition of Dalai Lama's political power to an elected leadership. The committee, in its report submitted on March 23, suggested removal or amendment of several provisions in the charter which relates to the executive power of the Dalai Lama.