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Covid-19 forces postponement of exile Tibetan parliament’s September session

Speaker of 16th Tibetan Parliament in Exile Pema Jungney delivering the commencement address of 8th session of 16th Tibetan Parliament. (Photo courtesy: TPiE)

(TibetanReview.net, Aug17’20) – The 10th session of the 16th Tibetan Parliament in Exile slated to be held next month has been postponed to Mar 2021due to the chaos and uncertainty created by the continuing spread of the Covid-19 global pandemic. The decision also means reprieve for all members of the parliament in exile save one representing Tibetans living outside the Indian Subcontinent as they were otherwise under the risk of automatic loss of their seat.

The decision to postpone the session was announced at a press conference Aug 17, addressed by Speaker Mr Pema Jungney and Deputy Speaker Acharya Yeshi Phuntsok as well as Parliamentary Secretary Mr Tsewang Ngodhup.

“We were bound to take this decision as we have to take responsibility especially when His Holiness the Dalai Lama resides here in Dharamsala. And even if the session is held supposedly, because of the current international travel ban Tibetan Parliamentarians from outside of India will not be able to attend the session and Tibetan Parliamentarians in India too might find it difficult to travel with the ongoing pandemic,” Tibet.net Aug 17 quoted the Speaker as saying.

The main, usual agenda of the September session is to discuss the annual reports of the departments of the Central Tibetan Administration (CTA). This role will now be discharged by the parliament’s standing committee through written submissions and communications.

The parliament’s 9th session was held for just one day in Mar 2020 to pass the CTA’s annual budget. But the session cost the Europe-resident Tibetans’ then MP, Spain-based Ven Thupten Wangchen, his seat because of the rule which says that anyone who fails to attend two successive sessions of the parliament automatically loses his seat. Wangchen was busy with a Europe-wide Tibet campaign and had sought leave from attending the 8th session that was held in Sep 2019. And then none of the MPs from outside India could attend the one-day 9th session in Mar 2020 due to the Covid-19 travel restrictions.

Following Wangchen’s automatic disqualification, the exile parliament announced that Switzerland-based Wangpo Tethong who had won the next highest number of votes with the requisite number during the general election of 2016 as a new member of the parliament.

The exile Tibetan parliament usually holds two sessions per year, in March and September, although additional session could be held as and when necessary.

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