(TibetanReview.net, Jun19’21) – A seemingly disappointed, if not a little exasperated as well, Chief Election Commissioner of the Central Tibetan Administration (CTA) has on Jun 18 called on the elected candidates to the 17th Tibetan Parliament in Exile (TPiE) to get on with the task of taking their oath of office in compliance with the provisions of the Charter of Tibetans in Exile and thereby elect their Speaker and Deputy-Speaker.
The oath-taking ceremony took place on Jun 8, but only 21 elected candidates did so in compliance with the provisions of the Charter. The Charter requires the elected candidates to be sworn in by the pro tem speaker after he administers the oath of office to each of them.
However, a total of 22 others – one from U-Tsang, one from North America and all of the 10 each belonging to the religious and Dotoe constituencies – took their oath on the basis of an alternative arrangement made by the Secretariat of the TPiE and which was not in compliance with the Charter.
This meant that the Election Commission could not conduct the election of the Speaker and Deputy-Speaker due to the absence of the quorum of at least two-thirds majority of the strength of the TPiE.
While it is still not clear – as no one would explain to this day – why the secretariat offered a deviant mode of taking oath availed by the 22 elected candidates, it is understood that the latter had made clear their resolve not to be sworn in by the pro tem Speaker because he had been sworn in by the Chief Justice Commissioner of the Tibetan Supreme Justice Commission (TSJC). Their justification for this resolve is that the entire panel of justice commissioners of the TSJC had been removed from their posts by the previous TPiE.
However, the resolution on Mar 25 by which the removal was carried out did not comply with both the substantive and procedural laws for this purpose. The justice commissioners therefore rejected the resolution as illegal even as they vacated their posts on Mar 26. They repeated their trashing of the resolution when they resumed their posts on May 24, saying they had only recused themselves during that period so as not to have a say in a decision on their own case.
However, the grouping of 22 elected candidates called the resumption of their posts illegal. And the TPiE secretariat allowed them to swear themselves in by means of reading or reciting their oath before a portrait of His Holiness the Dalai Lama and, ironically, a copy of the Charter.
The Tibetan election rules do not provide a timeframe within which elected members have to take their oath of office. It also does not say what happens if elected members refuse to take their office as prescribed by the Charter. The oddity of such unseemly eventualities were simply not anticipated.
Chief Election Commissioner Wangdue Tsering Pesur has called on the recalcitrant members to comply with the Charter to take their oath of office as soon as possible as a prolonged failure to constitute the 17th TPiE will severely hamper the functioning of the CTA.
One leader of the grouping of 22 had said he did not want make an issue of the swearing in of the Sikyong being made by the Tibetan Supreme Justice Commissioner. The question is what is so different about members of the TPiE being sworn in by a pro tem Speaker who had been sworn in by the Tibetan Supreme Justice Commissioner.
Thanks to the oath-taking glitch, the CTA still does not have its Kashag, or council of ministers, and other approvals necessary for ensuring its smooth functioning.