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Wednesday, 21 October 2015

Exile Tibetans cast ballot in preliminary polls for PM, MPs

Exile Tibetans cast ballot in preliminary polls for PM, MPs

By Tenzin Dharpo and Tenzin Monlam

Monks show their greenbook, which serves as voter id in the Tibetan elections as Tibetan exiles cast their ballots in the preliminary polls for Tibetan PM and members of parliament, Oct. 18, 2015 Phayul Photo: Kunsang Gashon
Monks show their greenbook, which serves as voter id in the Tibetan elections as Tibetan exiles cast their ballots in the preliminary polls for Tibetan PM and members of parliament, Oct. 18, 2015 Phayul Photo: Kunsang Gashon
DHARAMSHALA, Oct. 17: The exiled Tibetan refugees settled around various pockets of the world today cast their votes in the preliminary election of the Tibetan Prime Minister (Sikyong) and the members of the 16th Tibetan Parliament in Exile.

At the Tsuglakhang polling station here, the queue surpassed the exit gate of the Theckchen Choeling premises with people waiting eagerly to cast their ballot.

The voting has taken place in around 46 different places fragmented in various Tibetan refugee settlements and collectives such as schools and winter business locations around India, Nepal and Bhutan. The European constituency is divided among England, Switzerland and Belgium encompassing France, Spain and remaining European nations under its belt. The North and South America allotted separate constituencies and all of Australia, Taiwan, Russia, Japan and Mongolia under a common constituency.

Ama Adhe, a former political prisoner, prays before casting her ballot/Tsuglakhang, Oct. 18, 2015 Phayul Photo: Kunsang Gashon
Ama Adhe, a former political prisoner, prays before casting her ballot/Tsuglakhang, Oct. 18, 2015 Phayul Photo: Kunsang Gashon
Dharamshala, the seat of the exile government, Central Tibetan Administration has 10 polling stations in and around the area. Tenzin Sonam, voting for the first time, said “It has been a good experience for me. Since it is my first time, I got to know the different nuances of politics like you have to vote for 10 MPs including two female candidates.

“Personally I feel that an ideal MP should be one who can point out if any mistakes were committed by the cabinet ministers and the Prime Minister. I am hopeful the candidates that I have voted would justify the responsibility,” Sonam said.

Even with such huge turnaround the polling went smoothly in all ten polling booths. Dr Thokmey, a former member of Tibetan parliament said that the process of voting has become more simplified and improved.

Thinley Jampa, a staff on election duty at the Tsuglakhang said, “Voters have poured in since the opening of the polling booth at nine in the morning. Certainly, this year, people are paying more attention and they are more excited. The turnaround percentage this year is much greater than the 2011 elections. People of all ages have participated, from elderly people to young voters.”

The number of Sikyong candidates to be pushed ahead for the final elections is unregulated except for a clause in Charter that prescribes a minimum of 2 and maximum of 6 candidates. The Chief Election Commissioner, Sonam Choephel Shoshur told Phayul earlier that, “That decision (no. of Sikyong candidates) will be announced after a meeting within the EC. We may announce it before the preliminary rounds or after that. It is undecided as of now.”

Speaking to Phayul, Election Commissioner Sonam Choephel Shoshur said yesterday that, “The announcement for the members of parliament will feature exactly twice the number of actual seats in the parliament for all the respective categories”. Earlier rule to push ahead only those candidates bagging the number of the prescribed aggregate has been changed to the current rule which shall be operational as of this election term.

The preliminary election’s vote count result for both the Sikyong and 16th TPiE will be announced within the next few days. The final elections for both the Sikyong and 16th TPiE are slated for March 20, 2016.

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