Dalai Lama’s Political Successor Takes Oath of Office

Posted August 8th, 2011 at 12:35 am (UTC-5)
Leave a comment

Lobsang Sangay was sworn in Monday as head of the Tibetan government in exile, replacing the Dalai Lama as the movement's political leader.

Mr. Sangay took the prime minister's oath of office at a ceremony presided over by the Dalai Lama in the Indian hill town of Dharamsala, where the exiled government is based.

The ceremony ended months of transition within the exile government, sparked by the Dalai Lama's decision to step away from political affairs. Tens of thousands of exiled Tibetans from across the globe elected Mr. Sangay in April. The 76-year-old Dalai Lama says he will retain his role as Tibet's spiritual leader.

The 42-year-old Mr. Sangay said Sunday he will strive to communicate with China's civil society and government in order to “resolve differences peacefully, based on mutual interests.” In a published commentary, Mr. Sangay vowed to restore freedom for Tibetans and work for the return of the Dalai Lama to his homeland.

Mr. Sangay also noted his 16 years as a Harvard law scholar, saying he used that post to routinely reach out to the Chinese people through dialogue. He said he will continue that practice as prime minister so that Tibet's status can be resolved peacefully.

The exile government has operated from Dharamsala since 1959, when the Dalai Lama fled Tibet after a failed uprising against Chinese rule.

China has routinely accused the Dalai Lama and his followers of advocating Tibetan secession, despite repeated assurances from the Nobel laureate that he is seeking dialogue with Beijing aimed at establishing Tibetan autonomy.