The Dalai Lama announced late Wednesday evening he will resign as the leader of the Tibetan government-in-exile. He will remain the group’s spiritual leader, his spokesman Tempa Tshering said, and will remain the leading advocate for the Tibetan cause.
“Tibetans need a leader, elected freely by the Tibetan people, to whom I can devolve power,” the religious leader, exiled after Chinese forces invaded his homeland in the 1950s, said in a statement. “Now, we have clearly reached the time to put this into effect.”
The Chinese Foreign Ministry was quick to denounce the statement, calling him a “religious crook” attempting to divide China.
“He is the mastermind of political activism,” ministry spokesman Jiang Hu said. “He has said many times he is leaving but this seems to be one of his tricks to deceive the international community.”
Born Lhamo Dondrub in 1935, he became leader of Tibet at age 15. He won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1989.