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Tibetans Vote in Preliminary Polls to Elect New Leader
Oct 21, 2015

Thousands of Tibetans worldwide voted on October 18 for a political leader to keep up their struggle for greater freedom in China and to head their exiled government. Harvard-educated Lobsang Sangay, current prime minister of the exiled government who is recontesting for the top job, is the front-runner ahead of four other candidates. Rival candidate Lukar Jam Atsok is looking to make way, advocating Tibet's complete independence from China, rather than the exiled government's more moderate stance of greater autonomy for their homeland. Atsok fled Tibet in 1997 after China released him from jail for political activism.

  • In the preliminary round of voting, about 87 thousand exiled Tibetans in about a dozen countries from Australia to the United States were registered to cast ballots for a prime minister and for a new exiled 44-member parliament.

  • A final round of voting is scheduled for March 20 2016 when the new prime minister and parliament will be announced. 

  • The election is only the second since the Dalai Lama retired as political head of the exiled government four years ago, handing over power to elected leader Sangay to continue the fight.

  • The 80-year-old Dalai Lama remains the spiritual head of Tibetan Buddhism and the figurehead of the struggle for autonomy for Tibetans in China. 

  • Dalai Lama fled Tibet for exile in India in 1959 amid an abortive uprising against China's rule. 

  • Those securing at least 33 per cent votes in today's polling will be eligible to contest in the final stage of election.

  • The general elections will elect the fourth political leader -- also known as Prime Minister -- and the 16th Tibetan Parliament-in-exile, comprising 45 members.

  • In India, voting took place, among other places, at Dharamsala, Darjeeling, Dehradun and Delhi. In Dharamsala, polling stations were set up at 10 locations.

  • Besides Tibetan settlements within India, elections were also held in Bhutan, North America, Europe and several other countries across the world where the Tibetan diaspora has settled down after the Dalai Lama fled Tibet.


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