By Tenzin Monlam
DHARAMSHALA, March 21: With the results of the Tibetan elections from North America gradually becoming public as the counting is on in Washington DC, the incumbent Tibetan Prime Minister, mathematically, is set for a second term in office, going by his lead in the results thus far from both the US and Canada.
Meanwhile, the Tibetan Election Commission, which was criticized for various reasons over the period of the entire electoral process that lasted for over six months, had yet another reason to clarify its position – this time it’s the differing spellings of the incumbent Tibetan PM’s name on ballot paper, result sheet and the candidate’s green book. The issue was brought to light by Tibetan netizens on social networking sites and apps like Facebook and WeChat.
Besides the two different spellings, a third kind of spelling was seen on the final vote count sheet of Dharamshala, the seat of the exile Tibetan government. All those spellings were different from the one on the candidate's green book.
Speaking to Phayul, the Chief Election Commissioner (CEC), Sonam Choephel Shosur said, “The mistake in the spelling of the said candidate will not affect the vote count since there are only two candidates, both with distinct names. The votes will stand and will count.”
Shosur, however, acknowledged the mistake and said the spelling mistake came about due to the different ways of writing the candidate’s last name ‘Sangay’ in Tibetan. He has also directed all the Local Election Commissions (LEC) to correct the mistake.
Tibetan PM Candidate Lobsang Sangay's green book
A Tibetan living in Dharamshala who has been closely following the elections said that the EC has the responsibility to ensure uniformity in the spelling of candidates' names based on their green books. "The green book is the document that a candidate has to submit to the EC to stand in the elections for PM or the parliament. The same mistake went unnoticed in the preliminaries. Since the EC already has a copy of the candidate's green book it can not blame for the lagging on its part onto something else. It should at least have the integrity to own its mistake," said the Tibetan who asked not to be named.
The local EC of Dharamshala announced a consolidated result this time, unlike area wise results it announced in the preliminaries in which results of Ghangchen Kyishong, the seat of the Tibetan government in exile, showed loss for the incumbent PM Lobsang Sangay, and which was interpreted by some as the lack of support for him by the staff of CTA.
“We came out with a consolidated result on a strict instructions from the Election Commission. Moreover, bringing out separate vote counts raises unnecessary issues for us and chaos in the public,” said Tsering Lhamo, Dharamshala’s Interim Local Election Commissioner.
Dharamshala LEC also said that the local election commission received a caution notice from the authorities against allowing vote counts from various polling stations to go public.
According to Phayul’s latest unofficial vote count, Lobsang Sangay has won 33,511 votes and Penpa Tsering has won 24,358. However, the figures are not official as the Election Commission shall announce the official results of the final in April.