(TibetanReview.net, Aug08, 2015) – The Election Commission of the Central Tibetan Administration at Dharamshala, India, has extended till Aug 15 the last date for registering new voters for the upcoming Tibetan elections which will be held in Oct 2015 and Mar 2016. Only those who have crossed 18 years of age since the last election or who have not previously registered as voters need to register. The elections have gained momentum recently with three Tibetans announcing their candidature for the Sikyong election and some of the different major groups in the exile community announcing their lists of “candidates” for both the Sikyong and exile parliament seats.
On Jun 10, Mr Tashi Wangdu, Bengaluru-based CEO of the Federation of Tibetan Cooperatives in India, announced that he was standing for election as Sikyong. He was formerly an official of the exile Tibetan administration, including with stints as Secretary at the Bureau of HH the Dalai Lama in New Delhi, the Settlement representative in the Bylakuppe Tibetan settlement, Secretary at the Office of Tibet in South Africa, and the Chief Representative of South Zone Tibetan settlements in Bengaluru.
On Aug 3, Mr Penpa Tsering, the Speaker of the Tibetan Parliament in Exile, announced his candidature.
Also on Aug 3, Mr Lukar Jam Atsok, a political commentator on Tibetan affairs and President of the Gu-Chu-Sum Movement of former political prisoners in Chinese ruled Tibet, announced that he was standing for election as Sikyong. He represents a marked contrast from the other candidates thus far not only for the reason that he is a recent arrival in exile but also for the fact that he is outspoken in his stand for Tibet’s independence from Chinese rule. The other would-be candidates stand for a negotiated middle way solution with China for a status between independence and the status quo.
Mr Tashi Wangdu is supported by the Ngari Chithun Tsogpa, an association of people from Western Tibet’s Ngari region. On the other hand, the association of people from the U-tsang region has proposed Speaker Penpa Tsering’s name for the next Sikyong. And the National Democratic Party of Tibet has proposed the names of Sikyong Lobsang Sangay and Speaker Penpa Tsering.
The current Sikyong Dr Lobsang Sangay, whose five-year term ends on Aug 1 next year, is yet to announce whether he will stand for a second term. Under the Charter of Tibetans in Exile, a person can be elected as Sikyong for two consecutive terms but not more. Besides, a person need not announce his candidature for being voted in as a candidate in the preliminary poll.
Exile Tibetans are to go to the polls on Oct 18 this year for a preliminary voting to enable the election commission to determine the pools of candidates from which the lists for the final voting on Mar 20 next year will be finalized. In the parliamentary election, which will be for a total of 45 seats, monks get to vote twice – one for their respective two religious MPs and the other for their 10 provincial MPs. Tibetans living in India, Nepal and Bhutan have to vote for 10 MPs each on the basis of their parents’ or grandparents’ provincial origin in Tibet. Those outside these countries can vote for MPs on the basis of their current country of residence for the total of five seats allotted for them.
Tibetans who are desirous of standing for election but do not figures in the lists after the preliminary poll can offer themselves as voluntary candidates for the Sikyong or parliamentary elections.