Tibetans want ceremonial role for Dalai Lama

A photograph of the Dalai Lama is seen, top right as exile Tibetan parliamentarians and cabinet ministers listen on stage as their Prime Minister Samdhong Rinpoche, left, addresses a gathering in Dharmsala, India, Tuesday, May 24, 2011.

DHARMSALA, India — Tibetan exiles in India planned Tuesday to urge the Dalai Lama to stay on as the ceremonial head of state of their government-in-exile even though he has turned political authority over to an elected leader.

The Tibetan parliament is discussing amendments to its constitution, which are required after the 75-year-old spiritual leader announced that he wanted to end his political role. The deliberations included more than 400 exiles and lasted four days in the northern Indian hill town of Dharmsala, the seat of the Tibetan government-in-exile.

A parliament spokesman said if the Dalai Lama turns down their proposal, they would then consider making him the protector and symbol of the Tibetan nation.

Tibetans don't want the Dalai Lama to retire quietly and strongly feel that they should be able to use his influence with world leaders and the respect he commands worldwide as a spiritual leader to further the Tibetan cause.

"We will present the conclusions of the meeting to the Dalai Lama tomorrow," Pempa Tsering, speaker of the parliament, told reporters.

In the proposed Tibetan charter, the Dalai Lama's duties would include his engagement in efforts "to reach a satisfactory solution to the question of Tibet" and "to meet with world leaders and other important individuals and bodies to speak on behalf of the Tibetan people."

The Tibetan spiritual leader would also be expected to give guidance to the exiled government.

After the Dalai Lama announced his decision to hand over political power to an elected representative, tens of thousands of Tibetans around the world last month elected Harvard legal scholar Lobsang Sangay as head of the Tibetan government in exile.

The Dalai Lama has lived in Dharmsala since fleeing Tibet following a failed 1959 uprising against Chinese rule.

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