Lobsang Sangay is Kalon Tripa, to carry on Tibetan legacy (Lead)

August 8th, 2011 - 1:27 pm ICT by IANS  

Dharamsala, Aug 8 (IANS) Harvard-educated Lobsang Sangay, 43, took oath of office Monday as the new Kalon Tripa, or prime minister, of the Tibetan government-in-exile in an event termed a “step towards genuine democracy”.

The ceremony, presided over by Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama, was held in this north Indian hill town amid heavy showers.

Sangay in his speech remembered the sacrifices made by his elders.

“I am here not as a result of my personal achievement but as a result of hard work and sacrifices laid by elder generations in Tibet and in exile,” he said.

“Today I pledge to carry on and build upon the great legacy of our elders.”

Addressing a gathering of more than 5,000 people, the Dalai Lama said in his native dialect: “Now we have handed over all political responsibilities to the democratically-elected leadership of Lobsang Sangay.”

The Nobel laureate, in his brief extempore address, expressed his gratitude to Tibetans-in-exile settled across the globe for participating in the democratic process by electing the Kalon Tripa and members of the Tibetan parliament.

A senior fellow of Harvard Law School, Sangay took over the reins of the government from 73-year-old monk scholar Samdhong Rinpoche, who had held the post for the past 10 years in two five-year terms.

Rinpoche in his address both in Tibetan and English said: “This is a new chapter in Tibetan history in which a joint step is taken towards a genuine democracy.”

Political observers believe that one of the most daunting challenges the new Kalon Tripa is going to face is political responsibilities that he acquired after the Dalai Lama retired from active politics.

The Dalai Lama, 76, devolved his “formal authority” to the elected leadership of the exiles in May. He attended the oath-taking ceremony in his capacity as spiritual leader of the Tibetans.

Thubten Samphel, a spokesperson for the government-in-exile, told IANS that the oath-taking ceremony was a historic occasion being attended by the Tibetan diaspora settled across the globe, including Taiwan, Japan, Belgium, Mongolia and Nepal.

He said Sangay took the oath of office at 9 a.m., 9 minutes and 9 seconds (9.9.9.), as desired by him.

The ceremony also saw the handing over of the seal of the Kashag (the cabinet) to Sangay. The seal has been used since the time of the seventh Dalai Lama (1708-1757) in Tibet.

Sangay pursued his early education from a refugee school in Darjeeling and studied law from Delhi University, before moving to Harvard for his doctoral studies.

Sangay’s wife, four-year-old daughter, two sisters and a younger brother arrived from the US for the event.

The Dalai Lama has lived in India since 1959 when he fled his homeland after a failed uprising against Communist rule. His government-in-exile is based here but is not recognised by any country.

Some 140,000 Tibetans live in exile around the world, over 100,000 of them in India.

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