By Lobsang Wangyal
McLEOD GANJ, India, 16 November 2020
The Tibetan Election Commission announced new voter registration for those who missed the last two registration opportunities. The new dates will be for five days, from 23 to 28 December, announced the Chief Election Commissioner Wangdu Tsering Pesur.
He said that the decision was taken following a large number of suggestions from different Regional Election Commissioners that there be more time for registration.
Those who will turn 18 after the closing of the registration dates could register separately even a day before the voting.
A total of 79,697 Tibetans in exile in 26 countries have registered to vote, far less than the more than 90,000 in the last election in 2016. Of these, 55,683 are from India, and the remaining 24,014 are from countries outside India such as Europe, US, Canada, Australia, and Japan. The registrations have been conducted at 58 locations.
The preliminary round of voting for the top post called Sikyong of the Central Tibetan Administration, and 45 members of the Tibetan Parliament-in-exile will be held on 3 January, from which the top two will be declared as the candidates for the final round of voting on 11 April.
So far eight people have thrown their names in the ring for election to the post of Sikyong, active campaigning for which started a few months ago. Should any candidate receive 60% of the votes, that person will be declared the winner without having to go for a second round of voting. But this situation is predicted unlikely.
The election of the members of Tibetan Parliament-in-exile will also take place simultaneously with the Sikyong election. The campaigning has been going on full swing with campaign posters seen at the Tibetan settlements and on the social networking sites.
Pesur during the press conference also referred to a video post by writer Jamyang Norbu. He said that the charge that those who are running for Sikyong cannot use photos of the Dalai Lama, Tibetan flag or map, or the emblem of the Central Tibetan Administration are rules enacted by the exile parliament. It was done in order that these important symbols would not be used for personal gains.
On the charge that EC is favouring the Middle-way policy, or those candidates who stand with this, as baseless by Pesur. “EC is an autonomous body, created to oversee the smooth functioning of the elections without any bias or prejudice.”
To a question on restricting freedom of speech for criticising a person holding a public post, and giving harsh penalty for doing so, Pesur said they followed the rules.
Mila Rangzen from New Jersey had been banned for eight years from voting and from the right to stand in elections for criticising a member of Parliament. Pesur said that they communicated and gave warnings for the offensive criticism against the Parliament member. “Mila Rangzen gave us an erratic response, and refused to comply to our request to take down the criticism in a video post on YouTube. His behaviour led us to take action according to Article 25 of the Election Rules,” Pesur said.