(TibetanReview.net, Sep15’21) – Elected candidates to the 17th Tibetan Parliament in Exile (TPiE) have decided to meet on Sep 27 for an internal discussion on their oath-taking issue, reported the Tibetan-language Tibettimes.net Sep 14. The issue has stymied the constitution of a functional legislative body of the Central Tibetan Administration (CTA) for the last more than three months.
The report said the decision to hold the meeting, which will take place in the CTA compound, was the outcome of an effort by the five elected candidates to the 17th TPiE from the constituencies outside India, Nepal and Bhutan carried out over a period of time.
The oath-taking ceremony for the 45 elected candidates took place on Jun 8. However, only 21 candidates took the oath as prescribed by the Charter of Tibetan in Exile. They consisted of 8 of the 10 elected candidates from the U-Tsang Province constituency, all 10 from the Domey Province constituency and three of the five candidates elected by Tibetans living in countries outside India, Nepal, and Bhutan.
But all the 10 elected candidates from the Dotoe province constituency, all of the two each from the five religious constituencies, joined by one from the U-Tsang constituency and one from the North America constituency refused to follow suit.
Nevertheless, they demanded to be recognized as members of the 17th TPiE, contending that they had taken their oath in front of a copy of the Charter of Tibetans in Exile and a portrait of HH the Dalai Lama.
But the Tibetan Election Commission rejected their demand and called on them to abide by the Charter. It refused to recognize their claimed self-administered oath taking.
The grouse of these recalcitrant 22 elected candidates was – and continues to be – that the Pro Tem Speaker who was to administer the oath to them – and did so to the 21 sworn in elected candidates – was himself wrongly sworn in by the Chief Justice Commissioner of the Tibetan Supreme Justice Commission (TSJC).
This issue dates back to Mar 25, 2020 when the 16th TPiE, in violation of both the substantive and procedural laws for the purpose, removed all the three justice commissioners of the TSJC in a sitting lasting just around an hour by more than a two-thirds majority decision.
Responding to popular appeals and reiterating their stand that the resolution removing them from office was illegal, the three justice commissioner resumed their office on May 24 and the chief justice commissioner went on to swear in the newly elected Sikyong of the CTA at a ceremony attended by the outgoing Sikyong in an online presence of HH the Dalai Lama.
The Standing Committee members of the 16th TPiE did not attend the swearing in ceremony and later the 22 elected candidates for the 17th TPiE – many of them re-elected candidates – refused to take their oath.
Both the group of 21 and of 22 have issued position papers and responses while there have been NGO and other efforts to resolve the issue, but without success.