Dalai Lama to step back from political duties
[10 March] In his annual statement on the anniversary of the 1959 Tibetan National Uprising, the Dalai Lama announced he is to formally begin the process of transferring his political role to the Kalon Tripa (Tibetan Prime Minister in exile). The Dalai Lama said, "I will formally propose that the necessary amendments be made to the Charter for Tibetans in Exile, reflecting my decision to devolve my formal authority to the elected leader."

The Dalai Lama In a press release, Philippa Carrick, CEO of Tibet Society, said, "The Dalai Lama's actions bring a new phase to the Tibet issue ... With the Foreign Secretary and Prime Minister so strongly supporting the will of the people in the Middle East, it is time they also genuinely gave such support to the Tibetan people who have lived under occupation of over 60 years"

The Dalai Lama devoted a portion of his annual speech to clarify his intentions to step back from political duties. Below are the relevant excerpts:

"One of the aspirations I have cherished since childhood is the reform of Tibet’s political and social structure, and in the few years when I held effective power in Tibet, I managed to make some fundamental changes. Although I was unable to take this further in Tibet, I have made every effort to do so since we came into exile. Today, within the framework of the Charter for Tibetans in Exile, the Kalon Tripa, the political leadership, and the people’s representatives are directly elected by the people. We have been able to implement democracy in exile that is in keeping with the standards of an open society.

"As early as the 1960s, I have repeatedly stressed that Tibetans need a leader, elected freely by the Tibetan people, to whom I can devolve power. Now, we have clearly reached the time to put this into effect. During the forthcoming eleventh session of the fourteenth Tibetan Parliament in Exile, which begins on 14th March, I will formally propose that the necessary amendments be made to the Charter for Tibetans in Exile, reflecting my decision to devolve my formal authority to the elected leader.

"Since I made my intention clear I have received repeated and earnest requests both from within Tibet and outside, to continue to provide political leadership. My desire to devolve authority has nothing to do with a wish to shirk responsibility. It is to benefit Tibetans in the long run. It is not because I feel disheartened. Tibetans have placed such faith and trust in me that as one among them I am committed to playing my part in the just cause of Tibet. I trust that gradually people will come to understand my intention, will support my decision and accordingly let it take effect."

Further reading:

The Dalai Lama's 10 March statement 2011 (in full)
Tibet Society's press release

14 July 2011: Voice of America interview with the Dalai Lama
The Dalai Lama talks about his political retirement, his observations on the Chinese leadership, his views on the situation in the Middle East and North Africa and the future of the Dalai Lama institution.
Video part 1 (12 mins) I Video part 2 (12 mins) I Transcript

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