On Sunday (March 20), thousands of Tibetans arrived at the courtyard of the Tsuglagkhang Temple in the northern Indian town of Dharamsala to vote for a new political leader for the next five years.
This was the second election since the 14th Dalai Lama stepped down as head of the government-in-exile. In 2011, the Dalai Lama relinquished his post to focus on his role as the spiritual leader for Tibetans. On Sunday, some 80,000 exiled Tibetans cast their vote from across the world.
For decades, many Tibetans have been living outside of their homeland, especially in India, after a failed uprising against the Chinese government, which has been ruling the region since 1951. The Central Tibetan Administration, or the Tibetan government-in-exile—based in Dharamsala, Himachal Pradesh—was established after the Dalai Lama fled to India in 1951.
The polling took place at 85 locations around the world. Voters had to choose 45 members to the parliament-in-exile, including a prime minister, from a total of 94 candidates. The results will be declared on April 27.
China has always maintained that Tibet has been a part of its territory since the mid-13th century. “We never recognise this so-called government-in-exile,” a spokesperson for the Chinese foreign ministry said on March 17. “We hope that all countries in this world, especially those that want to maintain friendly relations with China, will not provide facilities or venues for any anti-China, separatist activities by the so-called Tibet independence forces.”
Here is a collection of pictures from the election in Dharamsala.