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Candidate-selection poll for Tibetan general election proceeds smoothly, except in Kathmandu

(TibetanReview.net, Jan05’21) – The preliminary poll for the election of Sikyong, the executive head of the Central Tibetan Administration (CTA), and the 45-member Tibetan Parliament in Exile (TPiE) was held on Jan 3 with an only exit poll showing clear lead for prospective candidate Penpa Tsering. However, the real picture will become clear only after counting ends on Jan 11, with the results set to be announced on Feb 8.

The preliminary poll is meant for the election, and for enabling the shortlisting of candidates for the Sikyong and TPiE elections in the final poll.

Voting for the preliminary poll proceeded smoothly without any major incident save for a fraud case in Ladakh, which was quickly remedied, and a disruption by police in Nepal’s capital Kathmandu.

An exit poll carried out by the Tibetan Service of Radio Free Asia (Washington) shows Mr Penpa Tsering, former Speaker of the TPiE and former Representative at the Office of Tibet, Washington, leading with 40% of the votes, followed by former CTA minister and TPiE deputy Speaker Ms Dolma Gyari with 20% of the votes, Representative at the Bureau of HH the Dalai Lama New Delhi and former CTA minister Mr Drongchung Ngodup with 19.5% of the votes, and former Representative at the Office of Tibet Washington Mr Kalsang Dorje Aukatsang with 16% of the votes.

RFA said the poll was conducted on 1000 voters, of whom 907 responded.

In Ladakh’s Sonamling Tibetan settlement, a poll worker assigned to assist an illiterate voter was caught writing the name of a person other than that mentioned by an elderly voter. Since he had assisted others as well, all the 192 votes cast in that station were cancelled and repoll carried out on the same day.

In Nepal voting proceeded smoothly except in capital Kathmandu. Given Nepal’s crackdown on Tibetan polling works in the 2016 election, polling was held over Dec 25-26. However, police detained five Tibetans on Dec 27, although they were released later in the day. This incident took place in the backdrop of the visit to the country of a delegation from China with a mission to keep its fractious ruling communist party united. The mission failed but the efforts are continuing.

Amid reports that a ballot box was taken away, Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Mr Wangdu Tsering told the Voice of Tibet (Oslo) broadcast service that the matter concerning Kathmandu was much more serious than that but not appropriate to be spoken about to the media.

While in the 2016 election, voter turnout in the Tibetan election totaled 59,353, figures for the current one are not yet out. However, CEC has said the number of registered voters this time was more than 80,000 from over 30 countries.

The final list of candidates, after allowing for withdrawals, is scheduled to be announced on Mar 21, followed by the holding of the final poll on Apr 11.

And counting of votes after the final poll will be carried out locally from Apr 13 to 19, with the results being set to be announced on May 14. The new parliamentarians will be sworn in on May 30, 2021. No date is available yet for the swearing in of the new Sikyong.

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