In 2006, less than 27 percent of registered Tibetan exile voters participated in the elections. Fast forward to 2010, nearly 80,000 exiles are registered to vote, which pegs the question: What change will come? Who will be elected?
On Sunday, tens of thousands of exiled Tibetans around the world, including those in Bhutan, India, Europe and the United States, took part in the primaries to nominate candidates for Kalon Tripa, or the post of Prime Minister, and the Parliament-in-exile.
There is a long list of candidates but Lobsang Sangey, senior fellow at Harvard Law School, diplomat Tenzin Namgyal Tethong, Speaker Pempa Tsering and Deputy Speaker Dolma Gyari, are the favorites to win the nominations, reports Sify.
According to Daily News & Analysis, the Dalai Lama has stated he will not endorse any candidate but he will stand by whoever is democratically elected.
In an e-mail to Digital Journal, Darmod Travis, a representative of the Canadian Tibet Committee (CTC), said the organization is also not endorsing any candidate “as this is a decision for the Tibetan people themselves.” However, the organization “will continue to promote the elections on the main page of our website.”
Thanks in part to numerous non-governmental organizations; voting registration is a lot higher than it was in 2006 when 72,776 registered to vote and only 26.8 percent participated. This year, 79,449 of the 150,000 Tibetan exiles registered to vote.
Nepalese police block votes, seize ballot boxes
Despite thousands taking part in these elections, there have been conflicts between voters and security forces. According to Agence-France Presse, armed police forces blocked Tibetan exiles from casting their vote. The cops seized ballot boxes and forcibly detained hundreds of activists.
Witnesses in the capital city of Kathmandu, home to approximately 9,000 Tibetans, say Nepalese forces stormed three voting stations: “This was in total violation of our human rights. We believe everybody should be allowed to vote,” said one exile on the condition anonymity.
However, Kathmandu police chief stated that the Tibetans are living in exile in Nepal and holding non-Nepal elections is illegal “so we seized the ballot boxes.” Furthermore, the Nepalese government supports a One China Policy and opposes any anti-China movements.
The CTC representative said the actions by the Nepalese police were “deplorable” and that the election was another step towards resolving the Tibet issue:
“The CTC deplores the actions of the Nepalese police in this matter and have asked the Canadian government to express its official displeasure with the Nepali government,” stated Travis. “The CTC's commitment is to support the Tibetan government-in-exile to seek a meaningful and substantive resolution to the Tibet issue.”
The general election is scheduled for March 20, 2011.