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Tibetan parliament-in-exile meets, Dalai Lama retirement on agenda

Thursday May 26, 2011 07:42:18 PM, IANS

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Dharamsala: As the Tibetan parliament-in-exile convened its special session Thursday for the first time after the election of new lawmakers, it will discuss the smooth transition of political power from the Buddhist spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, to the elected leadership.

"The three-day special session began here to find a way out to amend the Tibetan Charter (constitution) that will allow the new elected leadership to get political responsibilities earlier vested with His Holiness," Speaker Penpa Tsering told IANS.

He said all the lawmakers are participating in the special session that has been convened only to make necessary amendments, if possible, to the charter.

The elderly monk has already made clear his intention of staying away from Tibetan political affairs. But he made it clear that he would stay committed to the cause of Tibet and continue as the spiritual head of Tibetan Buddhists.

The 75-year-old Nobel Peace Prize winner Wednesday turned down an appeal by the exiles to continue as the "ceremonial head of state".

Tenzin Norbu, a spokesperson for the parliamentary secretariat, said the exiles Wednesday beseeched the spiritual leader with requests to continue as head of state on the pattern of Britain where the queen is the symbolic head.

"He has altogether turned down proposals relating to continuation of his political roles and as symbolic head of the state," he added.

In his address, Tsering said in the parliament that the spiritual leader has accepted the preamble and the roles assigned to him under three clauses in the Article 1.

The Dalai Lama has offered suggestions on the third responsibility, that is, "to meet with world leaders and bodies to speak on behalf of the Tibetan people, to explain and discuss their concerns and needs as well as to appoint envoys and special envoys to serve the interest of the Tibetan people".

Norbu hinted that even there are chances that the present parliament, whose tenure is going to end May 30, would leave the issue for the next parliament to decide.

The new parliamentarians will take oath of office May 30.

The Nobel peace laureate's announcement has left Tibetans worried. The reason is obvious.

They are perplexed about who will lead their struggle for greater autonomy for Tibet once the iconic Dalai Lama retires from public life. There would be a leadership vacuum.

However, outgoing prime minister Samdhong Rinpoche told IANS: "His Holiness' retirement would result in just some changes in his day-to-day administrative obligations. He would never disassociate from the Tibetan people and would continue to work for the cause of Tibet."

It was half a century ago that the Dalai Lama, whom China brands a separatist, fled Tibet after an anti-Communist revolt in 1959. He has since headed the Tibetan government-in-exile here, which is not recognized by any country.

The Dalai Lama has already indicated that he has already transferred most of his political powers to Rinpoche, whom he has addressed as his "boss".

Tibetans have elected 42-year-old Harvard Law School senior fellow Lobsang Sangay as the next Kalon Tripa or prime minister.




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