Dalai Lama justifies his retirement

Dharamsala, May 10 (IANS) Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama has said that his decision to shed political authority and hand over powers to an elected political leadership stemmed from a commitment to democracy.

“The decision to devolve authority to the elected Tibetan leadership is my total dedication to democracy,” the Nobel laureate said Monday at Southern Methodist University’s 10th Hart Global Leaders Forum in Dallas in Texas, according to a post on the official website of the Tibetan government-in-exile Tuesday.

He underlined the need to set up a reforms committee, which he said could not function due to invasion of Tibet by China.

“But taking the opportunity of freedom in exile, I implemented reforms, including instituting a system of elected political leadership,” he said.

The parliament-in-exile based in this Himachal Pradesh town formally accepted his proposal in March to relinquish political authority and decided to hold a special session by May-end to amend its charter to pave the way for his retirement.

During his address, the Dalai Lama also expressed his gratitude to the US government and the US Congress for supporting the Tibetan struggle and praised the efforts made by former president George W. Bush in promoting democracy and religious freedom.

Later, at a question and answer session, he reiterated his position for a solution to the Tibetan issue without seeking separation from the People’s Republic of China.

He said he was optimistic about the changes taking place in China.

“In the past two years, there were over 1,000 articles in Chinese on Tibet that supported this approach and were critical of the Chinese government,” he said.

Nearly six million Tibetans live in Tibet while over 150,000 live in other countries, most of them in India.