Dalai Lama Formally Relinquishes Political Powers

Dharamsala, May 30 (IANS) Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama has devolved his "formal authority" to the elected leadership of the Tibetan exiles, an official said here Monday.

But he clarified that the Dalai Lama would stay committed to the cause of Tibet and will continue to be the spiritual head of the Tibetans.

"Whatever amendments we (Tibetan parliament) have made in the charter, have been approved by His Holiness. He gave his approval yesterday (Sunday). Now, Dalai Lama's administrative and political powers are vested with the democratically elected leaders," Tenzin Norbu, a spokesperson for the parliamentary secretariat, told IANS.

The parliament-in-exile Sunday presented the amendments to the Dalai Lama for his ratification. After giving his approval, the Dalai Lama vested the Central Tibetan Administration (CTA) and its elected leadership with the powers and responsibilities formerly held jointly by him and the CTA.

During the additional three-day session of parliament that ended May 28 (Saturday), it approved a new preamble and inherent rights and responsibilities to be assigned to the Dalai Lama under Article 1 of the charter.

As per the amended charter, the powers earlier vested with the Nobel laureate as head of the executive under Article 19 have been delegated to the Kalon Tripa or the prime minister.

Accordingly, the Kalon Tripa is empowered to approve and promulgate bills and regulations passed by parliament.

Other responsibilities have been devolved to parliament and the judiciary.

Another landmark amendment made to the charter is the annulment of Council of Regency enshrined in Articles 31 to 35, whose provisions earlier empowered the council to assume the Dalai Lama's role in circumstances when the latter is not acting as head of the state.

Parliament has also approved that the title of "Tibetan government-in-exile" be changed to "Tibetan administration".

Under the new charter, the Dalai Lama's duties will include providing advice and encouragement with respect to the protection and promotion of the physical, spiritual, ethical and cultural wellbeing of the Tibetan people and remaining engaged in the efforts to reach a satisfactory solution to the Tibetan issue.

He will provide suggestions to the assembly of Tibetan people's deputies and Kashag (cabinet), including the community and its institutions in exile, at his own initiative or at the request of those bodies.

The spiritual leader will continue to meet world leaders and other important individuals and organisations to speak on behalf of the Tibetan people as well as designate representatives and special envoys appointed by the cabinet to serve the interests of the Tibetan people in any part of the world.

"The new duties are not binding on the Dalai Lama," says an official statement of the CTA.

"The parliament successfully carried out the democratic reforms... On the one hand we feel sad with the change, but our sadness is far outweighed by the happy feeling that the Dalai Lama's visions to fully democratise the Tibetan polity have been realised," Speaker Penpa Tsering said in his closing remarks at the additional session of the parliament-in-exile.

The 75-year-old Dalai Lama, the global face of the Tibetan exile movement, shocked many Tibetans March 10 by announcing that he would hand over power to the elected leadership.

It was half a century ago that the Dalai Lama, whom China brands a separatist, fled Tibet after an anti-Communist revolt in 1959. He has since headed the Tibetan administration here, which is not recognised by any country.

Around 100,000 Tibetans live in exile in India.


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