Dalai Lama
The Dalai Lama. Photo Credit: Seattle Municipal Archives/Flickr.com/CC-BY

The Dalai Lama has decided to abdicate his leadership position within the Tibetan government, which technically hasn’t existed in decades. The Tibetan government is a government in exile, as it has little or no actual power to speak of. The 76-year-old political and religious leader wants to find a replacement before he passes away.

Dalai Lama calls for Tibetans to hold elections

The Dalai Lama has announced his intention to retire as the head of the exiled Tibetan government and has called for Tibetans to embrace and participate in fully democratic elections, according to The Telegraph. The 14th Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso, is 76 years of age and has declared that he wishes to retire before his death. The decision has to be ratified by the Tibetan parliament, which is currently located in India, before he can leave office. The Lama has been calling for democratic reforms in Tibet for years, though the region remains in Chinese control.

Beijing blasts democratic reform

The Chinese government is blasting the Dalai Lama for dishonesty, among other accusations, according to CNN. The Chinese Foreign Ministry released a statement referring to the Dalai Lama as “a religious crook” and his intention to retire and call for reform as “one of his tricks to deceive the international community.” The Tibetan government, which has not resided in or conducted government business in Tibet for five decades, will ultimately decide how to fill the political role, but the Dalai Lama will remain the spiritual leader of Tibetan Buddhism.

Government in name only

The Tibetan Government governs very little, if at all. The Dalai Lama and the Tibetan government went into exile in 1959 after Chinese forces invaded and took control of the country. The role of the Lama, according to MSNBC, is largely ceremonial as the Tibetan parliament elects its own prime minister. Freeing Tibet has become a popular cause over the past few decades, especially among the Hollywood jet set. China regards the Lama as a troublesome separatist who is trying to tear the fabric of China apart. The Lama has been criticized over the years for his opposition to homosexuality and for procuring money, weapons and training from the Central Intelligence Agency for a Tibetan insurgency.


The Telegraph: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/asia/tibet/8373662/Dalai-Lama-moves-to-avoid-Chinese-interference-in-succession.html

CNN: http://www.cnn.com/2011/WORLD/asiapcf/03/10/india.dalai.lama/index.html?hpt=Sbin

MSNBC: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/42001181/ns/world_news-south_and_central_asia/

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