Chief Tibetan Election Commissioner Namgyal Dorjee Teykhang from Dharamsala is visiting Washington, D.C. from August 17 to 19, 2003 to meet members of the Tibetan community as well as exchange views with American election experts.

Teykhang has been appointed by the Dalai Lama to head the Tibetan Election Commission. The Commission oversees elections of the Assembly of the Tibetan People’s Deputies, Local People’s Assemblies, and the members and the Chairman of the Tibetan Cabinet. If the Central Tibetan Administration (CTA) decides to call a referendum to get people’s verdict on a matter of extreme importance, it will fall upon the Election Commission to conduct the referendum. Although the settlement/welfare officers of most Tibetan communities in the Indian subcontinent are appointed by the CTA, people have the right to elect them if they so wish. In such a case, the Election Commission will conduct the election of settlement/welfare officers as well.

In order to ensure the independence of the Election Commission, the Charter of the Tibetans in Exile provides for the appointment of the Chief Election Commissioner by the Dalai Lama. The Chief Election Commissioner holds the office for a term of five years unless the Assembly impeaches him or her by two-thirds majority.

Teykhang was born in Tibet in 1942. At the age of 13, after finishing his rudimentary education in his village he went to Lhasa for further studies. When he was 23 he began serving the Tibetan government as a district official.

In 1959 along with other Tibetans he fled to Nepal and worked for a while as a teacher at a school for Tibetan refugees along the Nepal-Tibet border. In 1963 he went to India initially working as a teacher at a school near Dharamsala and later in a Tibetan settlement in northeast India. In 1970 he began working for the Tibetan government-in-exile in Dharamsala and since then has served in the Department of Religion & Culture; Department of Finance, Department of Information & International Relations, and Department of Home. He also served as head of major Tibetan settlements in South India as well as in Ladakh.

The Dalai Lama nominated Teykhang as the Chairman of the Tibetan Election Commission, a statutory body within the Tibetan community in exile. He currently holds simultaneous charge of the Tibetan Public Service Commission, another statutory body.

Teykhang has been an active member of the Tibetan Youth Congress in the past, serving not only in the Central Executive Committee, but also as advisor.

The Election Commissioner is visiting New York City (where he is also scheduled to meet the Tibetan community) before coming to Washington, D.C. The Office of Tibet, New York, is organizing his tour.