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Supreme Patriarch, Thailand's top Buddhist leader, dies at 100; led monks more than 20 years

Thai doctors say the Supreme Patriarch, the head of the country's Buddhist monks, has died. He was 100.

Chulalongkorn Hospital doctors say Somdet Phra Nyanasamvara (SOM-ded PRA YA-na-SUNG-WORN) died Thursday from an infection in his blood vessels.

He was the 19th Supreme Patriarch of Thailand and led the nation's monks since 1989.

The patriarch had battled health problems and had been hospitalized since 2002. He had undergone surgery earlier this month.

His inability to perform his duties in recent years has led to speculation about his successor. A senior Buddhist monk who worked on his behalf since 2004 also died this year.

Thailand is the world's most heavily Buddhist country. More than 90 percent of its 67 million people are members of the religion.