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Dalai Lama reaffirms the sanctity of the Charter, asks elected Tibetan parliament candidates to take oath under it

(TibetanReview.net, Oct07’21) – In response to an appeal submitted by them at the end of their three-day meeting on Sep 29, His Holiness the Dalai Lama has suggested today that all the elected candidates to the 17th Tibetan Parliament in Exile (TPiE) take their oath of office as provided by the Charter of Tibetans in Exile.

He has also suggested that in case this does not result in constituting a functional parliament due to continued lack of the requisite minimum of two-thirds of its total strength of 45, the Tibetan Election Commission proceed further as per the relevant provisions of the Charter. This could mean holding by-elections for the seats remaining vacant due to continued refusal of members to take their oath of office under the Charter.

However, elected U-Tsang candidate Dolma Tsering has said all 45 have agreed to take their oath under the Charter following their meeting today itself to discuss His Holiness the Dalai Lama advisory.

Earlier, on Jun 8, a total of 22 elected candidates including the Pro Tem Speaker took their oath of office to become members of the 17th TPiE. However, 22 others, constituted by all the 10 candidates each elected by the religious and Dotoe constituencies, as well as one each belonging to the U-Tsang and North America constituencies, refused. Instead they took their oath of office on an alternative arrangement made by the Secretariat of the TPiE which was not in accordance with the Charter.

When explanation was sought by the Tibetan Election Commission for making the Charter-violating oath-taking arrangement, the Secretariat denied any responsibility for the violation of the Charter.

The election commission then asked all the elected candidates to take their oath as provided by the Charter and warned that failure to do so would compel him to proceed further under the relevant provisions of the Charter. This is what His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s advisory now asks him to do in case there is continued deadlock in constituting a functional 17th TPiE.

The grouse of the 22 elected candidates refusing to take their oath under the Charter, but by themselves and without an administerer, in front of a copy of the Charter and a portrait of HH the Dalai Lama, was that the Pro Tem Speaker who was to administer the oath under the Charter had been wrongly sworn in by the Charter-designated Chief Justice Commissioners of the Tibetan Supreme Justice Commission (TSJC).

This referred to the fact that in Mar 2021, the 16th TPiE had, in a guerilla style move, illegally removed all the three justice commissioners of the TSJC. And the reason for their removal was that the TSJC had imposed a token penalty on the Standing Committee members of the TPiE for having cancelled the holding the Sep 2020 session of the TPiE in violation of the Charter.

The token penalty, as provided by the Charter, barred the 11 standing Committee members from voting in the preliminary poll of the TPiE and Sikyong Elections, but not from standing for election or voting in the final poll. As a result, many of them returned as elected candidates to the 17th TPiE, and not in the best of mood.

The justice commissioners criticised their removal as illegal but still left their posts. This resulted in a chaos and a breakdown in the working of the Central Tibetan Administration in accordance with its Charter.

Following intense public pressure, the justice commissioners resumed their seats on May 24 and went on to administer oath to the newly elected Sikyong Penpa Tsering.

The swearing in ceremony on May 27 saw outgoing Sikyong Lobsang Sangay handling over the official Sikyong seal to Penpa Tsering in an online presence of HH the Dalai Lama. The ceremony was boycotted by the aggrieved TPiE members.

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