Thu, Apr 28, 2011 - Page 1 News List

Tibetan exiles elect law academic as new leader

Reuters, DHARAMSALA, INDIA

Tibetan exiles elected a Harvard law academic as their political leader, a man likely to bring in a more radical government-in-exile to challenge China after the Dalai Lama moved to relinquish his political role.

The new prime minister, 42-year old Lobsang Sangay, polled 27,051 votes, 55 percent of the total electorate, to beat two other secular candidates.

“The Election Commission of the Central Tibetan Administration of His Holiness the Dalai Lama has declared Dr Lobsang Sangay as the third kalon tripa,” chief election commissioner Jampal Chosang told a press conference, using the Tibetan title for the prime minister.

The handover of power will give the prime minister’s role greater clout as the region seeks autonomy from China and could stave off a possible crisis of leadership in the event of the Dalai Lama’s death.

Sangay earlier hinted he could move beyond the Dalai Lama’s “middle way” policy of negotiating for autonomy for Tibet. As a student in New Delhi, he was a leader of the Tibetan Youth Congress, which demands complete independence.

Born in a refugee settlement in India in 1968, Sangay won a Fulbright scholarship to Harvard where he earned a doctorate in law. As a senior research fellow at the university, he has engaged with Chinese academics and has twice organized meetings between them and the Dalai Lama.

Sangay was in the US when the results were announced. As prime minister he will have to move to the north Indian town of Dharamsala, the seat of the Tibetan government-in-exile that was formed in 1959 after the Dalai Lama fled Lhasa following a failed uprising against Chinese rule.

After the result was announced, a beaming supporter went around the conference room distributing candy to the Tibetan, Indian and Western journalists present.

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