Tibet Elects New Leader-in-New Exile

Tibet Elects New Leader-in-New Exile

By Jack  Phillips
Epoch Times Staff Created: Apr 27, 2011 Last  Updated: Apr 28, 2011

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Tibetan Prime Minister-elect Lobsang Sangey reads an  Indian daily newspaper during his election campaign in Dharamshala on March 18,  2011. (Raveendran/AFP/Getty Images)

The Tibetan government-in-exile elected its new prime minister, or Kalon  Tripa, who will assume many of the functions performed by the Dalai Lama until  he retires from his political duties next month.

Dr. Lobsang Sangay, a  43-year-old senior fellow at Harvard Law School, took 55 percent of the vote,  according to final poll figures.

The Kalon Tripa had always been  appointed by the Dalai Lama until 2001, when the first elected prime minister  took office in Dharamsala, India, home to the government-in-exile. The Dalai  Lama remained the titular head of state, but has been working towards devolving  power to the Tibetan people while he’s still alive.

The revered leader  told his people in a statement when he announced his retirement, “My desire to  devolve authority has nothing to do with a wish to shirk responsibility. It is  to benefit Tibetans in the long run. It is not because I feel  disheartened.”

Sangay, the youngest of the contenders for PM, said in a  statement accepting his office, “It is sobering to realize that nearly 50,000  people in over 30 countries voted in the recent Kalon Tripa and Chitue  [Parliament] elections.” He added, “Your overwhelming support is humbling and I  will do my utmost to live up to your expectations.”

He also said that the  high participation during the voting is a step in the right direction and will  boost morale.

“I urge every Tibetan and friends of Tibet to join me in  our common cause to alleviate the suffering of Tibetans in occupied Tibet,” he  said.

He added that the Dalai Lama should be able to “take his rightful  place in the Potala Palace.” The Potala Palace in Tibet, built in 1645, was the  main residence of the Dalai Lama until the current Dalai Lama escaped to India  after the Chinese invasion in 1959.

Currently, Tibetans as well as other  groups such as  Falun Gong practitioners and Uyghurs located  in the western part of China, face the daily threat of arrest, torture, and  sometimes death at the hands of Chinese authorities.

Sangay was born and grew up in the Tibetan settlement of  Lama Hatta in the Indian province, Darjeeling, and attended school there. He  moved to the United Staes in 1996 as a Fulbright Scholar and obtained his  Doctorate in Law from Harvard in 2004. His expertise is international law,  democratic constitution, and contemporary China.

The majority of Tibetans  living in exile reside in Dharmasala. The government-in-exile oversees 21  settlements in India, and 20 Tibetan settlements in Nepal and Bhutan. The  government also looks after 30,000 Tibetan Buddhist monks and nuns at 223  monasteries in the region.

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