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Dalai Lama in 'no hurry' to decide on successor
by Staff Writers
Dharamshala, India (AFP) Sept 23, 2011

Tibet's spiritual leader the Dalai Lama said Friday he was in "no hurry" to decide how his reincarnation will be chosen, but stressed the final word lay with him, not China.

"It is in my power and my right to decide about my reincarnation," the 76-year-old Buddhist monk told a gathering of leaders of the four schools of Tibetan Buddhism in the northern Indian hill town of Dharamshala.

"I am very healthy and the procedure involved in the selection process will be explained when I am in my 80s or 90s. There is no hurry."

Under Tibetan tradition, monks identify a young boy who shows signs he is a reincarnation of a late leader.

But the Dalai Lama has signalled a willingness to break with custom by choosing a successor before his death or among exiles outside Tibet. He has also said he might be open to electing the next Dalai Lama.

Many predict China will simply appoint its own successor, raising the prospect of two Dalai Lamas -- one recognized by China and the other chosen by exiles or with the blessing of the current Dalai Lama.

This happened in 1995 when China rejected the Dalai Lama's choice to be the next Panchen Lama, the second-highest ranking Tibetan Buddhist, and picked its own reincarnation.

The Chinese-raised Panchen Lama, Gyaincain Norbu, is now 21 and often extols Beijing's rule over Tibet. The Dalai Lama's selection, Gedhun Choekyi Nyima, has not been seen since 1995 after he was detained by China.

The Dalai Lama fled Tibet following a failed uprising against Chinese rule in 1959. He later founded the government in exile in Dharamshala after being offered exile by India.

China villifies him as a "separatist" who incites violence in Tibet, while the Dalai Lama insists his sole focus is a peaceful campaign for greater autonomy for his homeland.

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