US-based Lobsang Sangay, a 42-year-old who considers India his
second home after Tibet, was Wednesday elected the new Kalon Tripa,
or the Tibetan prime minister-in-exile.
Sangay, a senior fellow of Harvard Law School who was born in
India, has been chosen in the third direct elections for the Kalon
Tripa that were held March 20. He will succeed the incumbent,
Samdhong Rinpoche, who was chosen twice to the post.
Sangay's five-year stint is expected to be full of challenges,
with the Tibetan parliament giving a nod to the transfer of
political power from Tibetan spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, to
the newly elected political leader.
In a message from the US, Sangay urged "every Tibetan and friends
of Tibet" to join him in their "common cause to alleviate the
suffering of Tibetans in occupied Tibet and to return the Dalai
Lama to his rightful place in the Potala Palace.
"While I will do my utmost to fulfil the responsibility you have
placed in me, the success of the next Kashag (cabinet) will depend
on the engagement of all Tibetans. Together, I am confident we
will march together towards a better future."
Sangay was once dubbed a "terrorist" by China because of his
earlier association with the militant Tibetan Youth Congress, the
largest group of exiles.
Sangay was born in 1968 in India. He is often quoted as saying,
"India is my second home. I have never been to my first home
His father, who was settled in a village near Darjeeling, fled
Tibet in 1959 along with the Dalai Lama.
Sangay did his early schooling at Darjeeling and studied law from
Delhi University before moving for doctoral studies to Harvard. He
has said that he will shift to Dharamsala if he was elected.
Election official Jamphel Choesang told IANS that Sangay got
Diplomats Tenzin Namgyal Tethong and Tashi Wangdi, the other
contestants, received 18,405 and 3,173 votes respectively.
As many as 49,184 of the total 83,399 Tibetans in exile voted
across the globe -- except Nepal and Bhutan.
Incumbent Rinpoche had become the first directly elected prime
minister for a five-year term in September 2001 after the Dalai
Lama called for a directly-elected political leader of the exiles.
Rinpoche cannot re-contest as the Tibetan charter bars any
individual from holding the office for more than two terms.
The Dalai Lama, 75, and his supporters fled Tibet and took refuge
in India when Chinese troops moved in and took control of Lhasa in
He has since headed the Tibetan government-in-exile here but this
year decided to give up his political authority.
The Dalai Lama has favoured "greater autonomy" for Tibetans rather
than complete independence.
Though he has expressed his willingness to go back to Tibet and
resolve the Tibetan issue by agreeing to an autonomous Tibetan
set-up under China's control, Beijing has not obliged him.
In 1989, he won the Nobel Peace Prize for his non-violent struggle
Some 140,000 Tibetans now live in exile, over 100,000 of them in
different parts of India. Over six million Tibetans live in Tibet.