Dalai Lama Power Could Fall to Stanford Scholar

Prime minister election comes at key time for Tibet

By Lori Preuitt
|  Monday, Apr 18, 2011  |  Updated 5:49 PM PDT
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Dalai Lama Power Could Fall to Stanford Scholar

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The Dalai Lama is retiring from his post as political leader.

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The chair of Stanford's Tibetan Studies Initiative will soon learn whether he has been elected the next prime minister of Tibet, according to the Stanford newspaper.

The election comes a critical time for Tibet. The Dalai Lama recently announced he will soon retire as head of state and that means whoever is elected will take at least a portion of that political power.

The government of China referred to the elections as the Dalai Lama’s trick to "deceive the international community."

Tenzin Tethong, who is a Stanford scholar, won't know the results of the election until April 27. More than 80,000 Tibetans who live outside the country were eligible to vote in the exiled government of Tibet's March 20 elections.

Tethong said the delay in results is a good thing.

"The explanation is that many of the votes have to be physically brought in from remote parts of India and Nepal – and then, I guess, they want to count them carefully," Tethong told the paper.

Tethong's competitors are Lobsang Sangay, a research fellow in the East Asian Legal Studies Program at Harvard Law School, and Tashi Wangdi, a Tibetan official based in Brussels.

The New York news site Channel 6 said that Tethong is not favored to win.

Right now there are an estimated 150,000 Tibetans who live outside Tibet. That is a small fraction of the 6 million who live in the People's Republic of China.

But Tethong said even though the numbers are low, the election matters "because people in Tibet know about the 150,000 in exile, how communities are set up, how schools are set up, how monasteries function, how we operate in a democratic manner, how we interact with people and institutions and cultures all over the world."

He said the Tibets who live in their native country want to be part of a changing world.
 

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