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17march2010221Dharamshala: The National Democratic Party of Tibet (NDPT) began its third General Body Meeting today.  In his opening address, President Chime Youngdung set the agenda and welcomed the guests, including current and former NDPT executive members, and representatives from the NDPT’s regional chapters across India and Nepal.

Mr Chime noted that this year’s meeting is particularly important as it will select candidates for the upcoming 2011 parliamentary and prime-ministerial elections.

The party will nominate three candidates for prime minister and 45 candidates for parliament (15 from each Tibetan province) through what Mr Chime emphasized will be a transparent and fair democratic process.

The president also explained that, to have a meaningful democracy, the Tibetan government must switch to a multiparty system. With one party in power and at least one other in opposition, democracy will begin to flourish, he said.

Mr Chime added that, in addition to needing more members, the NDPT needs more administrative and managerial staff, in order to function as a credible political party.

He said genuine democracy will require the participation of all Tibetans in elections and political processes and urged party members to begin preparing and campaigning immediately.

Mr Chime concluded by wishing His Holiness the Dalai Lama a long life and the realization of all his wishes for the Tibetan people.

Mr Tsewang Rinzin, President of the Tibetan Youth Congress (TYC), next thanked the guests who had travelled so far to attend and urged active participation in the debate, to ensure a wide range of opinions be heard.

Mr Penpa Tsering, Speaker of the Tibetan Parliament, noted that the NDPT was founded 16 years ago and is like a child of the TYC. He commented that, in the past, only one person was responsible for all of the NDPT's activities, and party members did not take active roles in supporting the organization.  He said that this situation has unfortunately continued during President Chime’s tenure, and urged party members to become more active.

He continued that he hoped the public would take their role as voters seriously and said they should vote for the most qualified person, instead of voting for friends or neighbors.

Mr Penpa added that the NDPT has campaigned for candidates in past elections, but ineffectively, because those candidates lacked the proper qualifications.

He noted that some Tibetans abroad have such a low opinion of the Central Tibetan Administration, and are so sceptical of the upcoming elections, that they make their disappointment and anger felt online with scathing indictments of the Tibetan community and government in exile.

Mr Penpa concluded that these people are no better than the uneducated because, although they have the ability to help the government improve, they instead make trouble.

The meeting will conclude tomorrow, after which the NDPT will release a list of endorsed candidates for the elections.

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