Tibetans around the world cast ballots to elect a new leader

An elderly exile Tibetan woman Penam, 86, casts her vote to elect a new Sikyong or Tibetan political leader at a polling station in McLeod Ganj, India, on 11 April 2021.

An elderly exile Tibetan woman Penam, 86, casts her vote to elect a new Sikyong or Tibetan political leader at a polling station in McLeod Ganj, India, on 11 April 2021. Tibet Sun/Lobsang Wangyal

By Lobsang Wangyal

McLEOD GANJ, India, 11 April 2021

Tibetans living in exile in 25 countries around the world exercised their universal franchise to elect a new political leader called Sikyong in the final round of voting.

Ballots were also cast by more than 80,000 registered voters to elect 45 lawmakers of the Tibetan Parliament-in-exile.

Former Speaker of the Parliament Penpa Tsering and Advisor to the incumbent Sikyong Lobsang Sangay, Kelsang Dorjee Aukatsang, are facing each other for the post of Sikyong.

Penpa Tsering was ahead by close to 10,000 votes in the preliminary round, leaving a tough task for Kaydor to cover the huge margin.

Kaydor, who came as a surprise to the community by coming second in the preliminary round, took the challenge and mounted an aggressive campaign, crisscrossing India to visit all the major Tibetan settlements, and finally landed in New York City, where the largest Tibetan community in exile lives.

People came in large numbers to cast their ballots in McLeod Ganj, the capital of the Tibetan Diaspora. Kunga Tsering, the Chief of the Tibetans in Dharamshala, which includes McLeod Ganj, and the adjoining TCV, Norbulinga, Chamunda, Gopalpur, and others, told Tibet Sun that the polling was concluded peacefully.

“All our staff were efficient as they got experience from the preliminary round in January.”

Tsering said that the polling went quickly due to the introduction of stamps to mark the voters choice of candidates. However, there were people who complained about the stamps, saying having to use the same stamp used by many people wasn’t a good idea in this ongoing pandemic.

In the previous elections the voters had marked their choices with a pen instead of a stamp.

The counting of votes will take place from Tuesday (13 April), two days after the voting. Tibet Sun will post the results as and when they are announced at the respective localities.

In the preliminary round some localities did not announce their results, violating rule 34 (6)(a) of the election rules. The Election Commission concur with the same misinterpretation of the rule.

The official results of the election will be announced on 14 May. The new Sikyong and the members of parliament will take their oaths at the end of May.


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