Dalai Lama hits out at succession 'meddling'

The Dalai Lama said yesterday that China's Communist leadership can play no role in deciding who succeeds him as the leader of Tibetan Buddhism and called Beijing's meddling in the issue "a disgrace".

The Nobel Peace laureate is 76 next week and is preparing people for his death, in an effort to stop his homeland's Chinese rulers from seizing on a leadership vacuum.

"One thing I want to make clear, as far as my own rebirth is concerned, the final authority is myself and no one else, and obviously not China's Communists," he said.

The Dalai Lama, whose predecessors ruled as god-kings for four centuries, gave up his role as Tibet's political leader in favour of an elected exile government in May.

He has said the next Dalai Lama – who would be the 15th incarnation of the spiritual leader – will be born in exile and even floated the idea of choosing his own successor.

China had said that the Dalai Lama will be reincarnated in Chinese-controlled Tibet and has accused the current Dalai Lama of violating religious tradition.