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Tibet exiled 'PM' admits Dalai Lama's shoes hard to fill

Published on Aug 20, 2012 7:14 PM
Tibetan Prime minister Lobsang Sangay answers a question from members of the International press in New Delhi, on Aug 20, 2012. -- PHOTO: AFP

NEW DELHI (AFP) - Tibet's "prime minister in exile" Lobsang Sangay on Monday described his complete surprise when the Dalai Lama last year handed him responsibility for the movement's political future.

The Dalai Lama, the spiritual leader of Tibetan Buddhism, announced last March he was retiring from political duties and upgrading the role of prime minister shortly before elections that were won by Harvard-educated Mr Sangay.

The decision shocked many Tibetans, who see the Dalai Lama as the figurehead for the struggle against what they say is Chinese repression in their homeland but the Nobel prize winner said he wanted more democracy within the exiled community. Mr Sangay, 44, who has never been to Tibet, is now based in the northern Indian hilltown of Dharamshala where many Tibetans have lived since the Dalai Lama fled Tibet after a failed uprising in 1959.

"When I ran for the election I always thought I was coming to Dharamshala to serve the Tibetan people, and work under the Dalai Lama," Mr Sangay told reporters in New Delhi. "But I never thought that he would give us the surprise by saying 'you are on your own - take all the political authority I have, and fill in the shoes and lead the Tibetan movement forward'. It is one of the most difficult jobs in the world."

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