By Tenzin Monlam
Oct. 20, 2015 Phayul Photo: Kunsang Gashon
DHARAMSHALA, October 20: A three-member delegation of election monitoring organizations presented their findings of the Tibetan election process on Tuesday in Dharamshala. The delegation with the objective of increasing the profile of the exile Tibetan elections among the international community and analyze the current state of the Tibetan elections witnessed the Tibetans go to polls on Sunday.
Asia Democracy Network (ADN), the Asian Network for Free Elections (ANFREL) and Forum-Asia in association with Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy (TCHRD) presented their observation and findings at a press conference on Tuesday.
Appreciating the efforts of the Election Commission (EC) for working in difficult environment to manage the prelims, Ryan D. Whelan, Campaign & Advocacy Coordinator at ANFREL, said, “Given the stateless Diaspora spread across the globe, the inclusive nature of the EC’s organizing the voting for communities of the Tibetans in smaller qualifying numbers than before is admirable and worthy of imitation by much larger and more established EC in other countries.”
They also applauded the increased public involvement in current electoral process compared to 2011 elections. The delegation sees this as a positive sign that should be embraced and encouraged.
However, the delegation had few suggestions that could help further consolidate EC’s integrity and enforce a uniform Code of Conduct, like leveling the playing field of campaign finance and allowing all independent and outside the recognized groups to campaign for a candidate in order to avoid accusations of partisanship and to strength the fairness of the campaign finance rules.
They also suggested the CTA should discount the voluntary contribution (Green Book) as a requirement for a person to exercise their voting rights, Ryan said, “While we appreciate the necessity of raising revenue, voting is a foundational right that should not be linked to a person’s having paid their contributions. Hopefully, CTA finds other incentives to encourage voters to pay the voluntary payment.”
Clarifying on the suggestions of the announcing the numbers of prime ministerial (Sikyong) candidates advancing to the final elections, he said, “We are less concerned about which Sikyong candidates advance to the next round. But having the criteria clear before the elections, when the results are not known yet, is crucial otherwise it opens the EC to criticisms. Therefore, the rules should be in place regardless of the results.”
Part of the delegation, Pradip Ghimire, Coordinator of National Election Monitoring Alliance (NEMA), Nepal, visited the Bir Tibetan Society and Kanchan Khatri, Program Officer, NEMA visited the polling booths in Kullu-Manali.
The Delegation had met with exile Tibetan leadership, officials of the CTA, civil society groups, media and the general public prior to the elections for better understanding of the process.