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    Dalai Lama Plans to Step Down as Political Leader

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    NTDTelevision

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    The Tibetan government in exile has urged the Dalai Lama to re-consider his plans to step down as political leader, after the Tibetan spiritual leader said it was time for the government to evolve into a freely elected state. His decision comes 52 years after fleeing Tibet.

    The Dalai Lama said he would step down as political leader of Tibet on Thursday—part of a move towards a more secular government.

    The 76-year-old Dalai Lama would remain the country's spiritual leader, but with an elected Prime Minister in place in the Indian town of Dharamsala, his political role would become less relevant.

    He announced the move in his annual speech marking 52 years since he fled Tibet as Chinese Communist Party forces brutally put down a Tibetan uprising.

    [Dalai Lama, Spiritual Leader of the Tibetan Government in Exile]:
    "As early as the 1960s, I have repeatedly stressed that Tibetans need a leader, elected freely by the Tibetan people, to whom I can devolve power. Now, we have clearly reached the time to put this into effect."

    The move still needs to be ratified by the parliament-in-exile based in India on Monday, March 14. It could pave the way for Tibet's Prime Minister to have a greater say on the world stage, but current Prime Minister Samdhong Rinpoche urged the Dalai Lama to reconsider, saying Tibetans are not ready to govern without him.

    [Samdhong Rinpoche, Prime Minister of the Tibetan government in exile]:
    "Vast majority of the Tibetan people inside and outside still don't feel competent to take over and to become independent of Dalai Lama. That is very difficult to think. So, we are still asking his holiness to postpone it."

    The Tibetan government is modernizing, and hopes to achieve greater clout in its push for autonomy from the Chinese regime. Three main contenders for Prime Minister to be elected in March are secular.