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Exile Tibetan polling for new executive head, parliament conclude successfully

(TibetanReview.net, Apr12’21) – Under the shadow of a highly controversial decision last month of the Tibetan Parliament in Exile to sack the entire panel of justice commissioners of the Tibetan Supreme Justice Commission on a mere dispute about the latter’s jurisdiction over it, exile Tibetans voted on Apr 11 in a final poll to elect a new parliament as well as a new executive head called the Sikyong. Counting of votes will begin on Apr 13 morning, but official results are not due until May 14.

The elected Sikyong and the members of parliament will take their oaths of office at the end of May before the Chief Justice Commissioner, if there will be one by then to administer them.

A total of 83,079 eligible Tibetans living in 26 countries, including 15 in Europe, had registered to vote, according to the Tibetan Chief Election Commissioner Mr Wangdu Tsering Pesur. There has been no information so far of how many actually voted. He said the polling went exceedingly smoothly.

For the Sikyong post, Mr Penpa Tsering had the advantage of nearly 10,000 votes over his lone rival Mr Aukatsang Kelsang Dorjee (Kaydor) from the preliminary poll.

However, it remains to be seen how many of the voters who favoured Ms Dolma Gyari and Mr Dongchung Ngodup during the preliminary poll in sizable numbers at third and fourth positions have voted for which of the two shortlisted candidates this time.

It was a prior decision of the Tibetan Election Commission that there will be only two candidates for the final Sikyong poll. Ms Dolma Gyari was less than 1,000 votes behind Kaydor in the preliminary poll results.

Kaydor campaigned with vigour, travelling to Tibetan communities in hectic schedules to win votes especially from those who had voted in the preliminary poll for the candidates who did not make it to the final poll.

Penpa Tsering, in contrast, limited himself to holding online discussions to explain his agenda, citing the Covid-19 pandemic dangers posed by any physical campaign tour.

Polling was also held simultaneously for the 45-member Tibetan Parliament in exile. The parliament has 10 seats for each of the three traditional provinces of Tibet, two each for the four major Tibetan Buddhist and the pre-Buddhist Bon religious traditions of Tibet, two each for Tibetans in North and South America and Tibetans in Europe, and one for Tibetans in Eurasia excluding those in India, Nepal and Bhutan.

Counting of votes will begin on Apr 13 morning, with the official results of the Sikyong poll due on May 14 and that of the Parliament seats from May 14 to 28.

Counting will end on May 4, which means unofficial final results may be reported by the Tibetan news media by then.

The final poll was less confusing as voters only needed to put a stamp on the names of the candidates they wanted to see elected.

During the preliminary poll, there were no lists of candidates as it was meant to determine who the candidates should be. Voters needed to write the names, the native origins, current occupations and residences etc of the people they wanted to nominated as candidates.

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