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Tuesday, August 03, 2021

Elections for Tibetan Parliament-in-exile

Penpa Tsering, who challenged Sangay-led Cabinet, likely to be next Sikyong

Written by Varinder Bhatia | Chandigarh |
February 4, 2021 11:23:56 am
The final round of the elections will be held in April, while the result shall be declared on May 14.

Former speaker of the Tibetan Parliament-in-exile and former representative of the Dalai Lama in Washington DC Penpa Tsering is most likely to be the next Sikyong (president, Central Tibetan Administration).

Elections for the next Tibetan Parliament-in-exile are underway and the preliminary round of vote counting has already been completed. Results for the preliminary round, which is considered to be the most vital, are likely to be announced on February 8.

On this date, the Tibetan Election Commission shall be announcing two final candidates for Sikyong, as well as candidates for the 17th Tibetan Parliament-in-Exile.

The final round of polling shall be held on April 13 when the two frontrunners, most likely Penpa Tsering and Kaydor Aukatsang, will be contesting.

Penpa is followed by incumbent Sikyong Dr Lobsang Sangay’s close aide Kelsang Dorjee Aukatsang (Kaydor Aukatsang). Kaydor had served as Special Advisor to Sikyong Dr Lobsang Sangay, and earlier as representative of the Dalai Lama in North America and Chief Resilience Officer of the Central Tibetan Administration and the Director of the Social and Resource Development Fund (SARD).

The final round of the elections will be held in April, while the result shall be declared on May 14.

The Indian Express has learnt that Penpa Tsering is leading with approximately 24,000 votes and the final round in April is not likely to dampen his prospects of becoming the next Sikyong.

Approximately, 80,000 Tibetans living in exile around the globe registered to vote, out of which around 60,000 participated in the first round of polling on January 3.

Born in Buylakuppe Refugee camp in 1967, Penpa Tsering attended the Central School for Tibetans (Bylakuppe), topping the merit list in Class XII. He subsequently attended Madras Christian College, Chennai where he majored in economics.

Regarding his professional career, Penpa had served as the general secretary for the Tibetan Freedom Movement and the Nigerian Tibet Friendship Association during his college years. He also ran a private export business and later a restaurant. He has served as executive director at the Tibetan Parliamentary and Research Centre (TPPRC) at New Delhi from 2001-2008 and was elected to the 12th and 13th Tibetan Parliament-in-Exile.

It was in 2008 that Penpa became Speaker of the House of the 14th TPiE and was re-elected in his following term. It was in 2016, when Penpa was appointed as North America representative as the Dalai Lama’s envoy for a year.

Penpa Tsering was the one who filed a defamation case against the Lobsang Sangay-led TPiE Cabinet in May 2018. Penpa was removed unceremoniously as Dalai Lama’s representative to Washington DC and the Cabinet charged him with 10 points including “dereliction of duty”, “insubordination” and a “deficit of trust”, in dismissing him from the office in November 2017.

Although Penpa accepted the Cabinet’s verdict, he refuted all the 10 points, calling them “baseless” and “damaging to his reputation”.
The Tibetan Supreme Justice Commission, where the much-talked about “Case No. 20” among the Tibetan community was being heard, eventually cleared Penpa of all the charges and asked the Cabinet to tender an apology to him.

At the beginning of the elections, there were eight candidates in the fray. These included Penpa Tsering, Kaydor, Dolma Gyari (former minister and a well known Tibetan politician and social activist), Ngodup Dhongchung (Dalai Lama’s representative in Delhi), Acharya Yeshi (deputy speaker), Lobsang Nyandak (former minister), Tashi Wangdu (former CEO, Federation of Tibetan Cooperative Societies, Bangalore) and Tashi Topgyal (based in Shillong).

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