By Tenzin Dharpo
DHARAMSHALA, Oct 29: The Election Commission of the Tibetan government in exile on Tuesday responded to an open letter from a group of members of Tibetan support groups worldwide regarding the Tibetan elections.
The open letter sent by present and former representatives of prominent Tibet support groups raises a few concerns that although not new to the Tibetan diasporas and its critics, are a gaping revelation to western observers and supporters regarding the Tibetan electoral guidelines.
The letter further points to the EC’s negation to regulate a fixed rule on the eligibility of Sikyong candidates for the final elections and what it refers to as “vague prohibitions that provide opportunity for arbitrary interpretation and retroactive enforcement”.
The letter for instance questions the Kashag and Tibetan Parliament in Exile’s recognition of only 11 organizations that are permitted to endorse candidates on subjective platforms in a particular electoral event.
The Tibetan Election Commission in a response posted on the CTA’s official website said, “The Election Commission of the Central Tibetan Administration doesn’t have the authority to approve organizations in any of its statutes. The commission recognizes the eleven organizations on the basis of their having been approved by the Kashag and the Tibetan Parliament before.”
Phayul’s query on what constitutes the selection of such select organizations and its parameters, first to the Kashag Secretariat and then the Parliamentary Secretariat, the two offices that have made the exemption declined to comment.
The letter also mentioned, “So far, the Election Commission has received at least one complaint from a non-incumbent Sikyong candidate alleging that an incumbent candidate is violating the Election Commission's prohibitions on using official platforms for campaign purposes”.
“Any complaint has to be backed with irrefutable evidence and proof to be taken into consideration. Besides, any complaint ought to be brought forth from a local Election Commission level where the incident of malpractice has occurred. The local EC should then approach the headquarters with the grievances”, EC Sonam Choephel Shosur said, while refusing to comment if any such complaint has actually been filed.
The preliminary election for the Sikyong 2016 and 16th Tibetan Parliament in Exile has taken place on Oct. 18 with sporadic vote counts indicating incumbent Sikyong Lobsang Sangay in a comfortable lead and TPiE Speaker Penpa Tsering coming second. The new rule for the eligibility of Sikyong candidates to the final elections most likely has the incumbent PM and TPIE Speaker against each other on March 20.