By Lobsang Wangyal
MCLEOD GANJ, India, 2 January 2014
Activist and writer Lukar Jam disputed the upcoming election process for the vacant seat of the Amdo representative in the Tibetan Parliament-in-exile.
In a press note he criticised the Election Commission’s announcement of election of a new member following the resignation of Kirti Dolkar Lhamo in late November.
Dolkar Lhamo resigned due to “personal reasons” according to her resignation letter submitted to the Speaker and Deputy Speaker of the Tibetan Parliament.
Lukar has stated that a new law for handling vacancies is not being followed.
On 14 October 2011 Sikyong Lobsang Sangay signed into law a new rule passed by the members of the Tibetan Parliament that required appointment of the unelected candidate with the highest number of votes in the last general election.
The law also removed the minimum requirement for election of 33% of the votes. Each voter votes for up to ten representatives from their respective provinces of Amdo, Kham and U-Tsang.
Lukar was at eleventh place in the Amdo election, making him the legal replacement in Dolkar Lhamo’s position under the new law.
However, officials of the Tibetan Election Commission say that the new law is not applicable in the case of an election which took place before its enactment.
Since Lukar Jam’s case was before the passing of the new law, he does not qualify for the appointment according the interpretation of the officials.
In the press statement Lukar has asked for a debate in the March parliament session to clarify the implementation of the new law. He has asked for postponement of the special elections until there is a resolution of the issue.
Countering Lukar’s charge that the elections will cost more than 20 lakh rupees (30,000 USD approx), the officials said that the costs will be less than 10 lakh rupees.
The preliminary round of the special election to fill the vacancy is likely to be held in February, with the final voting in June. Tibetans of Amdo region living in India, Nepal and Bhutan will vote in the elections.
The 44-member 15th Tibetan Parliament was elected in March 2011, for a five-year term.