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Dalai Lama stepping down as Tibetan political leader

The exiled Dalai Lama announced on Thursday that he will formally step down as political leader of the Tibetan government in exile.

Lobsang Wangyal / AFP - Getty Images

The Dalai Lama reads a statement from the Tibetan Parliament-in-exile during a ceremony marking the 52nd anniversary of the 1959 Tibetan Uprising against Chinese rule, at the Tsuglakhang Temple in Mcleod Ganj, Dharamshala, India on March 10. The Dalai Lama announced his plan to retire as political head of the exiled Tibetan movement, saying the time had come for his replacement by a "freely elected" leader. The Dalai Lama, whose more significant role is as the movement's spiritual leader, said he would seek an amendment allowing him to resign his political office when the exiled Tibetan parliament meets next week.

"As early as the 1960s, I have repeatedly stressed that Tibetans need a leader, elected freely by the Tibetan people, to whom I can devolve power," the Dalai Lama said in a prepared speech on the anniversary of the 1959 Tibetan uprising against Chinese control. "Now, we have clearly reached the time to put this into effect."

Ashwini Bhatia / AP

Exile Tibetans listen to the Dalai Lama, unseen, as he speaks during the commemoration of the anniversary of the 1959 Tibetan uprising against Chinese rule, in Dharamsala, India on March 10.

The proposal needs to be formally approved by the Tibetan parliament-in-exile based in India. Read the full story and view our slideshow of the Dalai Lama's life.

Raveendran / AFP - Getty Images

Elderly Tibetan women shout slogans during a protest marking the 52nd anniversary of the 1959 Tibetan Uprising against Chinese rule, in New Delhi, India on March 10.

Exiled Tibetans in Delhi, above, and Kathmandu, below, have been taking part in protests to mark the 52nd anniversary of the Tibetan uprising.

Prakash Mathema / AFP - Getty Images

Nepalese riot police arrest a Tibetan protester at Boudhanath in Kathmandu, Nepal on March 10, during a protest to mark the 52nd anniversary of the Tibetan uprising.