Tibetans living in exile in Dharamshala in Kangra district of Himachal Pradesh and other parts of the country and globe on Sunday came out in huge numbers to cast their ballot to elect the next Sikyong (president) and members of the Tibetan Parliament-in-exile.

The incumbent president Lobsang Sangay after casting his vote in a polling booth in Gangchen Kyishong in Mcleodganj in Dharamshala said the Tibetan democracy-in-exile reflects the true aspirations of our brothers and sisters inside Tibet.

By this, we are sending a message directly to Beijing that while they do not have democracy nor grant freedom to Tibetans in Tibet.

However, under the great leadership of Tibetan spiritual Dalai Lama, we, the Tibetans in exile have been given the gift of democracy,” he said, adding it was a proud day for Tibetans around the world.

Around 83,000 Tibetan refugees scattered across 26 countries began casting their votes today to elect the President of the Central Tibetan Administration and members of the 17th Tibetan Parliament in what could be considered the most distinct democratic exercise in the world.

The two contestants for the post of Sikyong are Penpa Tsering and Kelsang Dorjee Aukatsang, one of whom will take over the reins of the Central Tibetan Administration from the two-term president Lobsang Sangay in late May.

As many as 93 candidates are in the run for the 45-seat Tibetan Parliament-in-Exile who represents 3 traditional provinces of Tibet, 4 schools of Tibetan Buddhism and Bon religion, the Tibetan communities of North America, Europe and Australasia.