The Dalai Lama said Wednesday (December 17) the movement he has led for nearly five decades should now be guided by the prime minister of the Tibetan government-in-exile. “I have grown old and already taken semi-retirement. It is better if I retire completely and get out of the way of the Tibetan movement,” he told reporters in Dharamsala, India, where he has lived since fleeing Tibet in 1959. “The future course of the Tibetan movement will be decided by the elected government under Prime Minister Samdhong Rinpoche,” the 73-year-old Buddhist leader added. His complete retirement would strengthen democracy in Tibet, the Dalai Lama said. The Nobel Peace Prize winner’s remarks came a month after a key conclave of nearly 600 exiled Tibetan leaders. The Tibetan exiles reaffirmed the Dalai Lama’s “middle way” of seeking greater cultural autonomy for Tibet while remaining under Chinese rule. China calls the Buddhist leader a “splittist” and says the Himalayan region has historically been part of China. The Dalai Lama had said in November he was not thinking of retirement and was committed to the cause of Tibet “till death.” He said at that time: “There is no point or question of retirement. It is my moral responsibility to lead the Tibetans till my death. My whole body and flesh is Tibetan.”