Lifestyle & Belief

Harvard-educated Tibetan elected head of exile government

Harvard University scholar Lobsang Sangay was elected prime minister of the Tibetan government-in-exile, reports the BBC. Sangay will take over the political role previously played by the Dalai Lama, who announced he was relinquishing his political duties in March.

Though many Tibetan exiles expressed concerns about the transition, experts have read the Dalai Lama's decision as a move to divide the political and religious leadership before his death -- thus reducing the risks involved in the choice of his successor. 

According to the news channel, 42-year-old Sangay was born in India and has never lived in Tibet. His father fled Tibet in 1959, the same year as the Dalai Lama. He says he will move to Dharamsala to serve as prime minister.

Sangay has said he supports the Dalai Lama's "Middle Way" approach to relations with China, which offers to give up the demands for a politically independent Tibet if China grants residents genuine autonomy.

Experts suggest that Sangay may have a difficult time keeping the issue of religious persecution in Tibet in the international limelight as the Dalai Lama gradually withdraws from political life, and also that the introduction of democracy into exile affairs may allow broader scope for the more militant demands of the youngest exiles.