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Dalai Lama 'to quit political role'

The Dalai Lama has said that he will give up his political role in Tibet's government-in-exile, shifting that power to an elected representative.

The Tibetan spiritual leader, speaking on the anniversary of the 1959 Tibetan uprising against Chinese control, said the time has come "to devolve my formal authority to the elected leader".

He has long insisted that he wants the exile government to have more power.

But the speech gave a formal timeframe to that transition, saying he would soon be proposing amendments to the exile constitution to bring about the changes.

The exile parliament is scheduled to begin its next session later this month.

Just how much change will come, though, is highly unclear. The Dalai Lama's political role is largely ceremonial - an elected prime minister is the formal leader of the exile government - but the Dalai Lama's status overshadows everyone else in the movement.

Dalai Lamas were traditionally both the political and spiritual leaders of Tibet, and the current Dalai Lama retains almost god-like status to most of his followers.

The 76-year-old Dalai Lama, who fled Tibet amid a failed uprising, remains deeply revered by most Tibetans despite Beijing's decades-long campaign to undermine his influence.

China regards him as a separatist intent on overthrowing Chinese rule over the Himalayan region.

The Dalai Lama, who has long insisted he simply wants more autonomy for the Tibetan people within China, called on Beijing to ease its rule in Tibet.

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