Tibetans Vote to Elect their Head of the Government
14 May, 2001: The preliminary round of the election process of Kalon Tripa or the Chair of the Kashag (Cabinet of the Tibetan Parliament) of the exiled Tibetans took place on 12 May 2001 due to the recent amendment to the election process.
The excitement leading to the day of the first ever election of Kalon Tripa made Tibetans line in queue, with their ubiquitous green book, long before personals from the election commission reached the voting place, which in most cases were schools and monasteries.
Nothing seems, not even the rather long-winded process of registering and filling the vote-form with at least four specifics of one’s choice of Kalon Tripa, or the summer sun burning down their neck, did dampen the enthusiasm of the voters to this new event.
“It is a precious gift from His Holiness the Dalai Lama which we Tibetans should make the best use of,” Wangden, a Tibetan born in Exile said.
“I feel that we are moving in the right direction, towards a more ideal democracy,” said Jampa, an official at the Central Tibetan Administration. “Yes, we have to make ourselves ready for the day when His Holiness the Dalai Lama is not amongst us to lead the way,” added his wife.
Recently the 12th Assembly of the Tibetan People’s Deputies (ATPD) amended the existing law for the election of the Kalon Tripa (the Chairman of the Cabinet) giving the right to the people to directly elect their head of the government.
The changes to the election process of Kalon Tripa makes it similar to the election of deputies to the ATPD. The elections will be held in two stages-preliminary voting which begins May 12, to determine a draft list of not more than six candidates.
A final list after withdrawals, if any, of not less than two candidates will then be voted upon. From them, the candidate securing the majority of votes will be appointed by His Holiness the Dalai Lama as the Kalon Tripa. Their term in office will be five years. Thus elected, the Kalon Tripa will nominate 7 ministers to form his Cabinet.
Formerly the Cabinet was elected by the ATPD, out of the list of candidates recommended by His Holiness the Dalai Lama. The cabinet members in turn elected one amongst themselves to be the Kalon Tripa for a term of a year.