Tibetan refugees in India are voting today to elect the next Prime Minister or ‘Sikyong’ of the Tibetan government-in-exile and other members of the 16th Tibetan Parliament. The polling took place at Dharamshala in Himachal Pradesh, the seat of government in exile.
As many as 94 candidates are in the fray for 45 seats in these elections, the results of which will be declared on April 27.
Tibetans living in exile in India can also cast their votes in Bengaluru, Darjeeling, Bylakuppe, Dehradun and Delhi.
More than 90,000 registered Tibetans in exile across the world are taking part in the elections, which will see voting being held in the US, Japan, Russia and Australia.
Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama, however, is not a voter for these elections.
The two main contestants for the post of Prime Minister are incumbent Lobsang Sangay — whose five-year term expires next month — and Speaker of the Tibetan Parliament, Penpa Tsering.
Sangay’s is well-placed to retain his post after he secured 19,776 more votess than Tsering, who polled 10,732 votes in the preliminary elections in October, 2015.
“Dharamsala, the capital of the Tibetan diaspora and the seat of the Dalai Lama and the Central Tibetan Administration, is witnessing the final round of elections to choose a Sikyong and members of the Tibetan Parliament-in-exile,” a Tibetan spokesperson said, adding that a total of 47,105 Tibetans had voted in the preliminary round in October last year.
The 2016 general election is the second direct elections for electing the Tibetan leadership since the retirement of the Dalai Lama from politics in 2011.
A spokesman for the Tibetan Central Administration said that a delegation comprising members of the European Parliament is in Dharamsala as part of the Tibetan election observation mission.
(With agency inputs).