(TibetanReview.net, Aug23, 2015) – Although the official lists of candidates for the upcoming exile Tibetan elections will be declared only after the preliminary poll in October this year, following by the acceptance by the election commission of the nominations of voluntary candidates, five people have already offered their candidature for the Sikyong election. The latest to join the fray is Mr Tashi Topgyal from Shillong, capital of the northeastern Indian state of Meghalaya. He is a former army man with India’s Special Frontier Force and announced his decision on Aug 20.
The CEO of the Bengaluru-based Federation of Tibetan Cooperatives in India (FTCI), Mr Tashi Wangdu, had set the ball rolling by offering his candidature for the Sikyong election on Jun 10. He was followed by the Speaker of the exile Tibetan parliament, Mr Penpa Tsering, and the President of the Gu-Chu-Sum Movement of former political prisoner from Chinese ruled Tibet, Mr Lukar Jam Atsok. Both announced their plans to stand for the election on Aug 3.
Three of the above would-be candidates have addressed at least one public and press meet. The current Sikyong Lobsang Sangay has said Aug 12 that while he will run for reelection, he will undertake what will amount to campaigning only after the Tibetan Democracy Day of Sep 2. However, his supporters are already out in force with a booklet listing 10 achievements during his current term, which ends on Aug 1, 2016.
Although candidates stand for the Sikyong election as individuals, various Tibetan associations and groups have announced their preferences. The Ngari Chithun Association of people from Tibet’s western Ngari region announced support for Mr Tashi Wangdu. The U-Tsang Association of people belonging to the central and southern Tibet announced support for Mr Penpa Tsering. And the National Democratic Party of Tibet proposed to the Tibetan public Mr Penpa Tsering and current Sikyong Lobsang Sangay as their candidates.
Political parties have no status in the Tibetan election system, although they can, like any other Tibetan association or individual, campaign and seek votes for their preferred candidates.
The actual number of candidates for the election of Sikyong, the executive head of the exile Tibetan administration at Dharamshala, India, will be known only after the preliminary poll when Tibetans will vote without any official list of candidates to vote for a preliminary list of candidates. This will be so for the parliament election as well. This will be followed by withdrawals by those in the lists who do no desire to stand and the nominations of voluntary candidates by their supporters for the final poll, which will be held in Mar 2016.