As Dalai Lama Pulls Back, Tibetans Elect Political Head

Lama will remain as spiritual leader
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 27, 2011 1:29 PM CDT
Updated Apr 27, 2011 1:38 PM CDT
In this March 20, 2011 file photo, Tibetan prime ministerial candidate Lobsang Sengey, gestures as he talks to the Associated Press in the backdrop of a Tibetan flag in Dharmsala, India.   (AP Photo/Ashwini Bhatia, File)

(Newser) – Tibetans in exile elected Harvard-educated academic Lobsang Sangay as their new prime minister today, hoisting him into the role of political leader that the Dalai Lama is vacating, the Wall Street Journal reports. Until now, the prime minister, or “Kalon Tripa,” of Tibet’s government in exile has had primarily administrative duties. But with the Lama announcing his retirement from politics last month, most of his duties will now fall to Sangay.

“It’s humbling and also an honor and a privilege that Tibetans have entrusted their hope and aspiration in me,” Sangay said, pledging to work to “end the suffering of Tibetans inside Tibet.” As an academic, Sangay is accustomed to communicating with Chinese scholars, something he says he hopes to continue in his government work. “I would like to continue the dialogue at the people level,” he said, “and if the Chinese government is willing, also at the government level."

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