Dalai Lama says he'll give up political role

Thursday, March 10, 2011 | 12:10 a.m. CST

DHARMSALA, India — The Dalai Lama said Thursday that he will give up his political role in Tibet's government-in-exile, shifting that power to an elected representative.

The Tibetan spiritual leader, speaking on the anniversary of the 1959 Tibetan uprising against Chinese control, said the time has come "to devolve my formal authority to the elected leader."

He has long insisted that he wants the exile government, based in this Indian hill town, to have more power. But the Thursday speech gave a formal time frame to that transition, saying he would soon be proposing amendments to the exile constitution to bring about the changes.

The exile parliament is scheduled to begin its next session later this month.

Just how much change will come, though, is highly unclear. The Dalai Lama's political role is largely ceremonial — an elected prime minister is the formal leader of the exile government — but the Dalai Lama's status overshadows everyone else in the movement.

Dalai Lamas were traditionally both the political and spiritual leaders of Tibet, and the current Dalai Lama retains almost god-like status to most of his followers.

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