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Tibetans in exile vote for new leader as Dalai Lama resigns

March 20, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
Tibetans across the world have started voting for a new leader after the Dalai Lama's resignation from politics.

For decades, the Tibetan exile community has looked to the Dalai Lama for spiritual and political guidance under the rule of China's Communist authorities in Tibet.

The Tibetan parliament-in-exile is discussing constitutional changes to meet the Dalai Lama's request that the prime minister become head of government.

The Dalai Lama - who is vilified by China as a political schemer - has never fully explained his decision to resign, which he announced on the March 10 anniversary of a failed 1959 uprising against Chinese rule over Tibet that sent him into exile.

But he has suggested negotiations with Beijing might be less complicated under another Tibetan figurehead, and he has said that, in the 21st century, the idea that leaders should be elected and representative was correct.

Successive rounds of talks between Chinese officials and representatives of the Buddhist leader have made no apparent progress toward bringing the sides together, as Beijing accuses the Dalai Lama of seeking to separate Tibet from China, despite his claims to be working only for a high degree of autonomy under Chinese rule.