Dalai Lama turns down ceremonial role

AP News
Posted: May 25, 2011 9:24 AM
Dalai Lama turns down ceremonial role

The Dalai Lama on Wednesday turned down pleas from the Tibetan community to accept a ceremonial role in the Tibetan government-in-exile after giving up his position as political leader.

The Tibetan parliament is discussing amendments to its constitution that are required after the 75-year-old Dalai Lama announced he wanted to end his political role. He remains the spiritual leader of Tibetan Buddhists.

Tibetans have voted in Harvard legal scholar Lobsang Sangay as the head of their government-in-exile, but they feel that they should still be able to use the Dalai Lama's influence with world leaders to further the Tibetan cause. To that end, they wanted to write an official ceremonial role for the spiritual leader into the constitution.

But the outgoing Tibetan Prime Minister Samdhong Rinpoche said that the revered monk refused the request.

The Dalai Lama said he will outline what he wants his role to be in the next few days.

In the proposed Tibetan charter that the Parliament is discussing, the Dalai Lama's duties would include his engagement in efforts to resolve the future of Tibet. Tibetans would like to negotiate more autonomy under Chinese rule.

He would also be required "to meet with world leaders and other important individuals and bodies to speak on behalf of the Tibetan people," Rinpoche said in Dharmsala, the northern Indian hill town where the government-in-exile is based.

The Dalai Lama has lived in Dharmsala since fleeing Tibet following a failed 1959 uprising against Beijing's rule.