The Dalai Lama has the sole authority to decide how
his successor will be chosen, a gathering of senior religious and
political leaders of the community in exile said on Wednesday.
"If the government of the People's Republic of China for political ends chooses a candidate for the Dalai Lama, the Tibetan people will not recognize and respect that candidate," the resolution adopted by more than 100 participants at the Indian hill town of Dharamsala said.
The choice of a successor to the current and 14th Dalai Lama, who turned 84 this year, has long been a contentious issue between China and the Tibetans in exile. Traditionally a reincarnation of the Dalai Lama is identified through an over 800-year-old method using various signs.
"The relationship between successive Dalai Lamas and the Tibetan people has been akin to that between head and neck, or, as it were, between the body and its shadow, and therefore never ever separable," the resolution said.
It said this was why the tradition of choosing successive Dalai Lamas through reincarnations should continue. The resolution was adopted at a conference organized by the Tibetan government-in exile based in Dharamsala.
The 14th Dalai Lama fled to India after China cracked down on a Tibetan uprising in 1959 followed by hundreds of Tibetans. China regards him as a separatist. The Dalai Lama has been cryptic in answering questions about his successor in recent years. In different interviews he has suggested he could be the last Dalai Lama, that his successor could be elected like the Pope or that she could be a woman.
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