By Lobsang Wangyal
MCLEOD GANJ, India, 28 September 2020
Tibetans in exile will elect a new political leader, known as Sikyong, on 11 April, announced the Tibetan Election Commission (EC) in a press conference today at the headquarters of the Central Tibetan Administration (CTA).
The preliminary round of voting will take place on 3 January, when the nominations will be made.
Wangdu Tsering Pesur, the Chief Election Commissioner, said that only the top two names from the preliminary round will be announced as candidates for the final round, although according to EC rules the Commission could name up to six candidates.
Elections for the 45-seat 17th Tibetan Parliament-in-exile will take place along with the Sikyong elections, on the same dates.
Results for the preliminary round of voting will be announced on 8 February, following which the list of final candidates for the 11 April final round will be announced on 21 March. Results of the final round will be announced on 14 May.
No date has been fixed yet for the oath-taking of the new Sikyong, while the members of the Parliament will take oath of office on 30 May.
The Sikyong heads the executive branch of the 150,000-strong exile Tibetan community, scattered around the world, with the majority living in India, followed by the US and Canada. The Sikyong’s two responsibilities are to engage with the Chinese government on the resolution of the Tibetan issue, and to oversee the welfare of exile Tibetans in India, Nepal, and Bhutan.
As the Dalai Lama — the icon of the Tibetan people and their freedom struggle — ages, urgency is felt within the Tibetan Diaspora to elect the best candidate who would follow the path shown by him.
Campaigns for members’ choices of candidates are being carried on in social media. About 60,000 Tibetans around the world are expected to participate in the elections.