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Tibet-Speakers-Parliament-2016Dharamshala — After newly elected Tibetan MPs being officially sworn in on Monday morning, the Speaker and Deputy Speaker of the 16th Tibetan Parliament-in-Exile (TPiE) were elected in the afternoon that same day, with no woman contender in the running for the top post after the second round of voting.

As per the amendment made by the 14th TPiE on devolution of the administrative and political powers of His Holiness the Dalai Lama to the three organs of Tibetan democracy, the members of the 16th TPiE took the oath of office from Pema Jungney who was sworn in as the interim speaker by Chief Justice Commissioner Kargyu Dhondup.

The speaker and deputy speaker, Khenpo Sonam Tenphel and Acharya Yeshi Phuntsok respectively, took the oath of office from the Chief Justice Commissioner Kargyu Dhondup on Tuesday at the Gangchen Kyishong in Dharmsala, India, on May 31, 2006.

Ven Tenphel served as Deputy Speaker of 15th TPiE, and a teacher at Namdroling monastery before being sworn in as the speaker of the 16th TPiE. In 2011, he received Doctorate in Tibetan Buddhist Philosophy.

Ven Phuntsok served as an academic administrator and Tibetan language teacher at the TCV School Suja, President of the National Democratic Party of Tibet and the Ngari Chithun Association, founder of the Bharat Tibet Sahyog Manch (BTSM), and executive programme officer of the TPPRC, before being sworn in as the Deputy Speaker of the 16th TPiE.

The swearing-in ceremony held at the Tibetan Supreme Justice Commission, Gangchen Kyishong, Dharamshala, India, on May 31, 2016. The oath of office was administered by Kargyu Dhondup, the Chief Justice Commissioner of the Central Tibetan Administration.

The MPs voted to elect their new Speaker and Deputy Speaker on Monday. Even after three rounds of voting, there was a stalemate between two MPs; Ven Tenphel and Mr Jungney, who got 22 votes each for the post of Speaker.

As the race for Speaker and Deputy Speaker of the Parliament gets hotter in the evening, several MPs have expressed their views, before holding an internal discussion.

Finally, members of the parliament unanimously requested Sonam Choephel Shosur, the Chief Election Commissioner to accept both of them as Speaker on a time-sharing basis, to which he agreed. It was then reached a decision that the first half of the Speaker's term – from 30 May 2016 to 30 November 2018 – will be chaired by Ven Tenphel while the remaining term will be chaired by Mr Jungney.

The election for the Deputy Speaker 's post was won by Ven Phuntsok with 38 votes, against Dolma Tsering (4 votes) and Thupten Lungrik (2 votes).

Although electing two Speakers on a time-sharing basis is not specified in the Tibetan electoral rules and regulations, it is not unprecedented, as a similar thing has happened during the 14th TPiE between two Tibetan MPs, on May 31, 2006.

Ven Tenphel and Ven Phuntsok accompanied by the Secretary of the Parliamentary secretariat and their personal assistants, also visited the main temple (Tsuglagkhang) and Nechung Monastery and Gadhong monastery, on Tuesday morning.

In the Tibetan parliament, both the Speaker and the Deputy Speaker are elected from among its members by a simple majority of members present and voting in the House. As such, no specific qualifications are prescribed for being elected as the Speaker.

However, the Charter of the Tibetans in Exile requires that Speaker and Deputy Speaker should be a member of the Tibetan Parliament-in-Exile. But, Parliamentary conventions and procedure play a major role while the Speaker or Deputy Speaker presides over all the sessions of the House and regulates procedure.

The TPiE, based in Dharamsala, which also serves as the seat of the Central Tibetan Administration, is the highest legislative organ of the exile polity.

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