The Dalai Lama rejected on Thursday calls from the Tibetan parliament in exile urging him to reconsider his decision to retire as political head of the movement. Skip related content

The 75-year-old spiritual leader announced last week that he wanted to shed his role as political chief of the government-in-exile and hand his responsibilities to the next prime minister, who will be elected on Sunday.

The overwhelming majority of members of the 43-seat assembly have called for the decision to be reconsidered, with many arguing that the cause for greater freedom in Tibet will be undermined.

"No (I will not reconsider). I gave serious consideration for many years... my decision for the long run is best," he told AFP during an interview.

"Rule by spiritual leaders or by kings, these are now out of date," he said, adding that he wanted to set an example of a non-elected leader who was happy to relinquish power.

The comments come amid turmoil in the Middle East where royal families, particularly Bahrain, are under pressure from pro-democracy demonstrators.

"The world is changing," he said.

In a letter read out to the parliament on Monday, the Dalai Lama argued that the Tibetan movement was now mature enough for an elected political leader with greater power and responsibilities.

The Nobel laureate will retain the more significant role of Tibet's spiritual leader and continue to advocate the Tibetan cause.

He 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.

"Regarding the Tibetan justice struggle, I am fully committed. Every Tibetan has a responsibility," he told a small group of journalists at his residence in the Indian hill town of Dharamshala.