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Tibetan Exile Leader Takes Office Pledging Struggle for Freedom

  • VOA News

Lobsang Sangay, left, the new prime minister of Tibet's government in exile, stands next to Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama as he greets the crowd at his swearing-in ceremony at the Tsuglakhang Temple in Dharmsala, India, Monday, Aug. 8, 2011.

The new head of Tibet's government-in-exile took his oath of office Monday with a pledge to sustain the exile movement until freedom is achieved in Tibet.

The swearing-in of Lobsang Sangay marked the official transfer of political power from the Dalai Lama, who will remain as the Tibetan people's spiritual leader.

At the ceremony in Dharamsala, India, Mr. Sangay said his election by Tibetans around the world sent a clear message to the Chinese leadership that the movement is far from dying out. He said the system in Chinese-ruled Tibet today is not socialism but colonialism.

Despite the tough language, the 42-year-old Mr. Sangay said he would continue the Dalai Lama's pursuit of a middle-way policy seeking only autonomy for Tibet rather than outright independence.

He said his struggle is not against China or its people, but against hardliners in the Chinese government who seek to deny justice, freedom and dignity to the Tibetan people. He said he remains firmly committed to non-violence.

The ceremony ended months of transition within the exile government, sparked by the Dalai Lama's decision to step away from political affairs. Tens of thousands of exiled Tibetans from across the globe elected Mr. Sangay in April. The 76-year-old Dalai Lama presided over Monday's ceremony.

The exile government has operated from Dharamsala since 1959, when the Dalai Lama fled Tibet after a failed uprising against Chinese rule.

China has routinely accused the Dalai Lama and his followers of advocating Tibetan secession, despite repeated assurances from the Nobel laureate that he is seeking dialogue with Beijing aimed at establishing Tibetan autonomy.

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