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Tibetans in Exile Vote for New Political Leader

Tibetan spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, looks on during the commemoration of the anniversary of the 1959 Tibetan uprising against Chinese rule in Dharmsala, India, March 10, 2011

Tens of thousands of exiled Tibetans around the world are voting Sunday for a new political leader to replace the aging Dalai Lama, after he insisted he is giving up politics.

The 75-year-old Nobel Peace laureate sent a letter to the Tibetan parliament-in-exile in Dharmsala, India, 10 days ago, pleading with it to accept his resignation.

Although the parliament asked him to stay on, the Dalai Lama said it is important to preserve continuity in the Tibetan movement while he is still alive and healthy.

The revered monk will stay on as the spiritual head of the Tibetan people.

The Dalai Lama, who wants autonomy for Tibet within China, has spearheaded the cause of exiled Tibetans since he fled his homeland more than half a century ago. China accuses the Dalai Lama of seeking independence for Tibet.

The front runner among the candidates is Lobsang Sengey, a fellow at Harvard Law School, who was born in exile in India and has never visited Tibet. Results of the election are expected in late April.

Some information for this report was provided by AP and AFP.