By Lobsang Wangyal
MCLEOD GANJ, India, 7 May 2016
Speaker of the Tibetan Parliament-in-Exile and a Sikyong 2016 candidate, Penpa Tsering, has been appointed as the new Representative for the Office of Tibet in Washington, DC, according to a statement from Sikyong Lobsang Sangay’s office.
Penpa Tsering is expected to take charge from 1 July, replacing Kaydor Aukatsang. His term as the Speaker will finish at the end of this month. It is unclear where Aukatsang would be transferred to.
The 49-year-old Speaker contested against the incumbent Sikyong Lobsang Sangay for the post of Sikyong 2016, but lost in the elections held in March.
Lobsang Sangay won the elections after securing 33,876 votes which amounted to 57% of the total votes, as against the 24,864 votes or 42% of the total votes polled for Penpa Tsering by exile Tibetans around the world in 40 countries.
In the lead-up to the final round of election on 20 March, which was second of its kind after the Dalai Lama stepped back from political leadership, the candidates as well as their supporters were blamed for their involvement in negative campaigning and harping on trivial issues such as factionalism, rather than speaking on the issues.
Both Sangay and Tsering shook hands at a joint press conference in Dharamshala on 7 April, expressing no personal grudges and appealing to their supporters to calm down and not to drag the election fever any further.
The two also offered to apologise to the Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama after he criticised them for mudslinging during the elections and the falling state of affairs in the Tibetan settlements.
Sangay and Tsering, along with the three Justice Commissioners of the Central Tibetan Administration, had reportedly met with the Dalai Lama on 2 May. The Dalai Lama reportedly explained to them how he felt about their behaviour during the elections, and urged them them to take measures to correct their shortcomings. Details from this closed-door meeting are unavailable.
Tsering’s appointment as the DC representative by Sangay is seen as a move for rapprochement between the two, as well as much-needed damage control after the elections.
The Office of Tibet in the United States was established in 1964 to raise the issue of Tibet at the United Nations, coordinate visits of the Dalai Lama to North America, and mobilise support from the US and Canadian governments for the Tibetan cause. In April 2014 the Office relocated to Washington, DC, from New York.