for AP on Nov. 26, 2010
NEW DELHI — The Dalai Lama wants to give up his lesser known role as the ceremonial leader of the Tibetan government-in-exile, an aide said Tuesday, in what appeared to be another step in the aging leader's efforts to prepare his people for life after he dies.
However, he will remain the spiritual leader of Tibetan Buddhism and the focal point of Tibetan national aspirations, said spokesman Tenzin Taklha.
As head of the dominate Gelug branch of Tibetan Buddhism, the Dalai Lama is the top religious leader for Tibet. Many of his predecessors also served as Tibet's political ruler, and the Dalai Lama himself served as head of government there after Chinese troops marched into his Himalayan homeland in 1950.
Beijing claims Tibet has always been part of its territory, but many Tibetans say the region was virtually independent for centuries.
Amid increasing tensions with the Chinese, he fled into exile in India in 1959 and set up a government-in-exile.
In recent years, the 75-year-old has sought to reduce his active role in that administration. Since the 2001 election of a Tibetan prime minister-in-exile, the Dalai Lama has considered himself semiretired, Taklha said.
"The Dalai Lama has been advising Tibetans to carry on responsibilities as if he not there," he said.