By SHRI RAM SHAW
New Delhi/Dharamshala, 14 May: When tens of thousands of mask-wearing Tibetans turned out to vote amid strict Covid precautions in what was to be their first democratic exercise since the Covid-19, it joined the league of the rare democracies around the world that had successfully conducted free and fair elections in the face of Covid-19.
The final election for Sikyong and Members of the 17th Parliament-in-Exile conducted worldwide in 23 countries on 11 April garnered the highest voter turnout in the history of exile Tibetan democracy.
As many as 63,991 Tibetans voted, out of the 83,080 registered voters, hitting a voter turnout of 77.02 percent, the highest ever, said the Election Commissioner Wangdu Tsering in a press briefing on Friday announcing the final results.
He formally announced Sikyong candidate Penpa Tsering with 34,324 votes as the new elected Sikyong of the Central Tibetan Administration in accordance with article 69 of Tibetan electoral rules and regulation.
Likewise, the 45 members elected to the 17th Tibetan Parliament composed of 10 members each from the three traditional provinces of Tibet; two each from the five religious constituencies, two each from the Tibetan communities in North America and Europe and one from the Tibetan community in Australasia (excluding India, Nepal and Bhutan) was announced as per article 52 of the electoral rules and regulation.
Election Commissioner congratulated each and every contestant and voters, attributing their democratic spirit, responsible and dignified campaigns to the success of 2021 elections, while heartily thanking the tireless efforts and initiative of all 58 local Tibetan election commissions and over 2000 members and volunteers.
“Above all, I take this opportunity to offer our deepest reverence and gratitude to His Holiness the Dalai Lama for his gift of Democracy, and as elected leaders and representatives of the Tibetan people, I urge the new Sikyong and members of parliament to serve in accordance with guidance and counsel of His Holiness, with the interest of six million Tibetans, Tibetan struggle and unity at the heart of their service,” said Wangdu Tsering, Election Commissioner.
The 2021 general election for Sikyong of the 16th Kashag and members of the 17th Tibetan Parliament is the third direct election of the Tibetan leadership since the complete devolution of political authority by His Holiness the Dalai Lama in 2011.