Dalai Lama to Retire from Political Life

The Dalai Lama announced that he will soon give up his political title as head of the TIbetan Government-in-Exile in favor of a Prime Minister freely elected by the exile community in Dharamsala. From the Guardian:

In a speech posted on the internet and delivered in the northern Indian hilltown of Dharamasala, where the Tibetan community in India is principally based, the veteran Tibetan Buddhist spiritual leader said that he would ask the Tibetan parliament in exile to make the necessary constitutional changes to relieve him of his “formal authority” as head of the Tibetan community outside China.

The assembly, which meets early next week, is expected to approve his request. Though long-anticipated, the move away from the limelight by one of the world’s best known political figures signals a dramatic change.

Analysts and supporters have described the decision of the Dalai Lama, whose office traditionally combines spiritual and temporal roles, as “historic”.

[...] “As early as the 1960s, I have repeatedly stressed that Tibetans need a leader, elected freely by the Tibetan people, to whom I can devolve power. Now, we have clearly reached the time to put this into effect,” the 76-year-old was set to tell an audience at his traditional appearance to mark the anniversary of the Tibetan people’s uprising of 1959 against Communist Chinese authorities in the Tibetan capital Lhasa and his own escape to India.

In the same speech, the Dalai Lama called on China’s leaders to respect free expression and a free press. From the BBC:

The exiled Tibetan spiritual leader said China needed to show freedom of expression and freedom of the press to earn the world’s respect and trust.

[...] “China, with the world’s largest population, is an emerging world power and I admire the economic development it has made,” he said.

“It also has huge potential to contribute to human progress and world peace. But to do that, China must earn the international community’s respect and trust. In order to earn such respect China’s leaders must develop greater transparency, their actions corresponding to their words. To ensure this, freedom of expression and freedom of the press are essential.”

March 10 marks the 52nd anniversary of an uprising against Chinese rule in Tibet which led the Dalai Lama to flee to India, where he has resided ever since. In 2008, the anniversary was marked with widespread protests and riots throughout Tibet.

March 9, 2011 10:43 PM
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