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08july201017Dharamshala: Spread across 40 regions in 6 countries - India, Nepal, Switzerland, England, USA and Canada - the Tibetan Women's Association (TWA) held its first Prime Ministerial (Kalon Tripa) Mass Mock Election on July 6th, His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama's 75th birthday, to train the Tibetan exile community in exercising their franchise for the third direct election of the Kalon Tripa, to be completed in 9 months time.

This initiative was spurred by dismal turnouts in the previous direct elections of the Kalon Tripa, with TWA's vice president Samten Chodon stating that, "TWA is determined to prepare the Tibetan voters [...] the mock election is a wakeup call". "We have deliberately made the ‘Green Book' as mandatory for voter identification," said Tenzin Dolma, TWA's Joint Secretary. "To ensure a non-partisan process, TWA did not endorse any candidates nor reproduce any nomination list presently being circulated. The voters voted for the candidate of their choice," said Dadon Sharling, TWA's Research and Media officer.

08july201016With the election successfully undertaken, the executive members of regional chapters are to take the ballots to the 10th Working Committee Meeting of the TWA, to be held in Manali (Himachal Pradesh) from July 16th to 22nd, for an aggregate and transparent counting. The TWA will analyse voter turnout and produce a report to be launched on September 10th, on the occasion of the 26th anniversary of TWA's refounding in exile. After the primary election of Kalon Tripa on October 3 this year, TWA will convene a televised debate among the endorsed candidates.

In the year 2000, the 40th year of Tibetan democracy in exile, His Holiness called for the Kalon Tripa to be elected directly by the Tibetan people, to further the goal that secular Tibetan democratic institutions lead in the democratic governance of Tibetans in exile. Although turnout for the mock election was only 20%, the TWA's report will provide the Electoral Commission with a ‘needs assessment' of Tibetan voters, and in so doing pave the way for a more effective, and inclusive, primary and final election.

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