Tibetans living in 26 countries including India on Sunday voted for the final phase of the general election for the Dharamshala-based parliament-in-exile to elect the next Sikyong (president), an official said.
Forty-five members of the Central Tibetan Administration (CTA), also called as Tibetan-parliament-in-exile, will also be elected by the voters, Wangdu Tsering, the chief election commissioner of the Tibetan election commission said.
There are around 1.3 lakh Tibetans living in exile in India and across the globe. The Tibetan government-in-exile will elect its head on May 14.
In the last phase of the polls to the post of the president of the CTA only two candidates — Pempa Tsering and Aukatsang Kelsang Dorjee — are in the fray, Wangdu Tsering said.
However, Pempa Tsering, the former chairman of Tibetan parliament, is the front runner.
During the first phase of elections, there were eight candidates contesting for the post of Sikyong. Pempa Tsering secured the maximum votes (24,488) followed by Dorjee (14,544).
Sikyong is the head of the Kashag or Cabinet, part of the executive branch of the CTA, and the post was created by the Tibetan parliament in 2011 to provide democratic governance to the exiled Tibetan community.
Prior to that, Tibetan spiritual leader Dalai Lama used to exercise the powers as temporal head of the Tibetan community in all affairs.
Lobsang Sangay, who became the first Sikyong of the CTA, has held the post for two terms, and according to the constitution, he cannot contest for a third term.
Pempa Tsering had lost to Sangay in 2016.
“We are sending a clear message to Beijing that there is no democracy in China and Tibetans don’t enjoy freedom but under the great leadership of his holiness the Dalai Lama, we in-exile have been given this gift of democracy and today is a proud day,” Sangay told reporters.
According to Wangdu Tsering, 83,079 voters are participating in the electoral exercise.
“We have two kinds of elections — one is for the presidential election of the CTA and the second is parliamentary. There are two nominees contesting for the post of the president and Tibetans are also voting to choose 45 members of parliament. We will declare the results on May 14,” he said.