Lobsang Sangay re-elected as Sikyong

Sikyong Lobsang Sangay smiles while meeting the press after election results were declared in Dharamshala, India, on 27 April 2016.

Sikyong Lobsang Sangay smiles while meeting the press after election results were declared in Dharamshala, India, on 27 April 2016. Sangay was re-elected to the post of Sikyong for another five-year term. Tibet Sun/Lobsang Wangyal

By Lobsang Wangyal

MCLEOD GANJ, India, 27 April 2016

Incumbent Sikyong Lobsang Sangay has been re-elected for five more years to head the Central Tibetan Administration (CTA), and vowed to continue the Tibetan freedom struggle.

Announcing the official results of the final round of election on 20 March, Chief Election Commissioner Shosur Sonam Chophel said that Sangay defeated the only other contender, Penpa Tsering, by 9,000 votes, from a total about 60,000 votes cast around the world in 40 countries.

Sangay was first elected to lead the Tibetans after the Dalai Lama relinquished his political powers in 2011.

Meeting the press after the results were announced, he said that the election sends a clear and powerful message to the Chinese government and the country of China.

“It’s a clear statement that exile Tibetans are practising democracy, whereas China is not.”

The exile Tibetan democratic elections is also a message of hope to Tibetans inside Tibet, and a message of aspiration.

He vowed to continue as long as it takes until basic freedoms and genuine autonomy are granted to Tibetans inside Tibet.

Sangay, like the Dalai Lama and most Tibetans, supports the “Middle-way” approach for seeking autonomy of Tibet within China. But in his first term he was unable to make any headway for talks with the Chinese government.

Speaking about the changes in leadership from 2001 to 2016, he said it was a classic example of “consolidation of democracy” because of the smooth transition and its acceptance by the people.

“So by democratic standards, now the exile Tibetan democracy is a full-fledged consolidated democracy. We take great pride in this,” he said.

He felt that the Tibetan elections should motivate the international community to look at CTA as a legitimate and credible democratic entity, like any other democratic system.

Sangay thanked his supporters and all those who participated in the election, saying their participation has strengthened Tibetan democracy.

“Obviously I have a special thank you and gratitude to those who voted for me once again.”

He praised India, the Indian government, and the Indian people, saying that in many ways Tibetans adopted the Indian model of democracy and adapted it to their own needs.

He also praised Tibetans in exile and in Tibet who are working hard for freedom even though “we are generations removed from the elders who have worked so hard and suffered so much.”

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