By Tenzin Monlam
Phayul Photo: Kunsang Gashon
DHARAMSHALA, April 27: The Tibetan Election Commission today declared the results of the Tibetan elections for Tibetan Prime Minister and members of the 16th Tibetan Parliament in exile.
The incumbent Prime Minister (Sikyong) Dr. Lobsang Sangay, as expected, was declared the winner by a margin of 9012 votes and shall retain the Tibetan Prime Minister’s post for another term of five years.
“The current Sikyong Lobsang Sangay is re-elected and has received 33,876 votes (57.08 % of the total vote) against Speaker Penpa Tsering’s 24,864 votes (41.89% of the total vote),” said Sonam Choephel Shosur, the Chief Election Commissioner who was accompanied by Ven Tempa Tashi and Tenzin Choephel, the two additional election commissioners.
Speaking on the need of changes in electoral rules, Sonam Choephel said, “We do need some changes since these rules and regulations were formulated years ago. Earlier, we did not have social media but now we do need certain changes accordingly. Therefore, we will be forwarding a draft to the Kashag and parliament regarding the same.”
The Tibetan PM on April 25 announced a draft guideline to amend electoral laws and stated that he had meetings with EC to discuss elections related issues including ways to avoid occurrences of negative campaigning and shortening the length of the campaign duration.
The elections results of the 16th Members of Parliament (Chithue) witnessed a major change with 50% new faces, a development that is looked by many as a positive one.
The first Chithue from the newly formed constituency, Australasia, is Dhongdue Kyizom , and the number of women MPs rose from nine in the last parliament to twelve in the 16th parliament.
Phayul Photo: Kunsang Gashon
With 90,377 registered voters, the EC lauded the increased voter turnout during the final election, which stood at 59,353 (65.67%) for the Sikyong election and 58,615 (64.85%) for the Chithue elections. Comparatively, turnouts for both the elections are significantly higher than the preliminaries at 54%. However, it also saw an increase in the total invalid votes, 613 and 591 in Sikyong and Chithu election respectively.
“By democratic standard, now the exile Tibetan democracy is a full fledged consolidated democracy. So we take great pride, hence I am very thankful to all those who participated in the election. Whether they supported me or not, their participation have strengthened our democracy,” said Sikyong Lobsang Sangay while extending his gratitude to the Tibetan electorate.
He said that this election sends a clear and powerful message to China, where people are deprived of exercising their democratic rights. He also added that it is a ‘message of hope’ to the Tibetans inside Tibet and to the international community as well.
He declined to comment on the public interest litigation filed against him regarding difference in the spelling of his name in the ballot paper and the Green Book since the matter is sub judice.