Dalai Lama rejects role as ‘symbolic’ head of state

By Agence France-Presse
Wednesday, May 25, 2011 16:02 EDT
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DHARAMSHALA, India — Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama has rejected an offer to become the “symbolic” head of state, a Tibetan official said Wednesday.

Samdhong Rinpoche, outgoing premier of the Tibetan government-in-exile, said the Nobel Peace Prize winner had “explained” his reasons for turning down the ceremonial job.

A resolution offering the post to the Buddhist monk by more than 400 Tibetan delegates from 25 countries visiting India was passed on Tuesday.

“He refused the request of the general meeting to be a symbolic head of the nation,” Rinpoche said in the northern Indian hilltop town of Dharamshala where the government-in-exile is headquartered.

“His holiness explained at length the objective of why he is devolving his functions and responsibilities,” Rinpoche told reporters.

The 75-year-old Dalai Lama in March said that he would retire as the Tibetan movement’s political leader, transferring his powers to a newly-elected head of the government-in-exile.

The Tibetan administration is not recognised by any foreign states and its legitimacy in the eyes of Tibetans in Tibet might be questioned without the Dalai Lama’s patronage, observers say.

The Dalai Lama favours “meaningful autonomy” for his people from Chinese rule, but Beijing considers him a separatist bent on fomenting unrest in his homeland, which he fled in 1959.

He escaped to India after an unsuccessful uprising against Chinese rule and established his exiled government in Dharamshala.

Agence France-Presse
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