Tibetan communities worldwide are voting in the first round of choosing a new government-in-exile, and are debating how to carry on their campaign to free their Himalayan homeland from Chinese rule.

Hundreds of Tibetans, including monks and nuns wearing wine-colored robes, lined up behind voting kiosks in the north Indian hill town of Dharmsala, where the exiled government is based.

It is just the second time Tibetans are voting since their one-time ruler, the Dalai Lama, gave up his political powers in 2011 to focus on his role as Tibetan Buddhist spiritual leader.

More than 80,000 people were registered to vote in Sunday's elections, which will decide which parliamentary and prime ministerial candidates will run in the final elections on March 20.