Dharamsala, March 20 (IANS) Tibetan exiles across the world on Sunday voted to elect their nominees for the post of ‘Sikyong’ or prime minister and the members of the parliament-in-exile based here.
Long queues of men and women flashing their green colour voter identity cards were witnessed in the morning at nine polling centres in this town to elect one of the two prime ministerial contenders: incumbent Lobsang Sangay and Penpa Tsering, the Tibetan parliament speaker.
A foreign delegation comprising members of the European Parliament is here as part of the Tibetan election observation mission, Central Tibetan Administration (CTA) press officer Jamphel Shonu told IANS.
Voters will also elect 45 members of the parliament in exile. A total of 94 candidates are in the fray. The results will be declared on April 27.
Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama is not a voter.
More than 90,000 Tibetans in exile across the world are to take part in the election. In the US and Europe, the electoral process is underway.
In India, voting is also taking place, among other places, at Darjeeling, Bylakuppe, Dehradun and Delhi. It will end in India at 5.00 p.m.
Some of the other countries where the elections are taking place included Japan, Russia and Australia.
A total of 47,105 Tibetans voted in the preliminary round in October last year.
The 2016 general elections are the second direct elections for electing the Tibetan leadership since complete devolution of political authority by the Dalai Lama in 2011.
The five-year term of incumbent Prime Minister Sangay will expire in August.
The 47-year-old Harvard educated Sangay is the first political successor to Tibetan spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama.
Sangay’s chances to get re-elected are high as he secured 19,776 votes more against his close rival Tsering, who polled 10,732 votes.
Since assuming power in August 2011, grant of more autonomy in Tibet “within the Chinese constitution”, creation of awareness on Tibet and education of the exiled youth are among crucial issues before Sangay.
He took over the reins of the government-in-exile from monk-scholar Samdhong Rinpoche, who held the post for 10 years.