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US congratulates Penpa Tsering on election as Sikyong ahead of taking office on May 26

(TibetanReview.net, May16’21) – Apart from outgoing Sikyong Lobsang Sangay and the lone other candidate Kelsang Dorjee Aukatsang, Sikyong-elect Penpa Tsering has been congratulated by the United States government following the official declaration of the election results on May 14. The Sikyong is the executive head of the Central Tibetan Administration and seen as the political leader of the Tibetan people.

“The United States congratulates Penpa Tsering on his election as the Central Tibetan Administration’s (CTA) next Sikyong. We look forward to working with him and the CTA to support the global Tibetan diaspora,” US State Department spokesperson Ned Price said in a tweet May 15.

Also outgoing Sikyong Lobsang Sangay issued a video message congratulating the Sikyong-elect on behalf of the Kashag (Cabinet). Kelsang Dorjee Aukatsang also congratulated Penpa Tsering.

Penpa Tsering won the election by a margin of 5,417 votes, having polled 34,324 votes against Kelsang Dorjee Aukatsang’s 28,907. Voter turnout was 63,991 (77.02 %) out of 83,080 registered voters from some 26 countries, mainly India, Nepal, United States, Switzerland, Canada, France, Belgium, and Australia.

Penpa Tsering is scheduled to be sworn in on May 26, the day Lobsang Sangay’s term ends. However, this remains doubtful after the Tibetan Parliament in Exile (TPiE) on Mar 25 sacked the entire panel of Justice Commissioners of the Tibetan Supreme Justice Commission (TSJC) whose Chief Justice Commissioner otherwise administers the oath of office.

The sacking remains highly controversial as it was patently illegal and was rushed without following the established procedure. Besides, the sacking was on account of a mere difference of opinion about the TSJC’s jurisdiction over the TPiE.

 An additional session of the TPiE is to be held on May 20 to elect new justice commissioners, although even then, it is not clear who will administer the oath to them.

Covid restrictions mean that a good number of TPiE members will be unable to attend. Besides, Himachal Pradesh has just announced an extension of the statewide curfew for another week till May 26.

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