RELIGION

Soldiers tussle with Buddhist monks heading to Thai rally

Soldiers in Thailand have tussled with monks seeking to support their candidate to lead the Buddhist hierarchy in Thailand.

Several dozen troops tried unsuccessfully Monday to block a few hundred monks from a gathering outside Bangkok where the monks were rallying to demand that the government immediately appoint 90-year-old Somdet Phra Maha Ratchamangalacharn to the top ecclesiastical position.

Critics accuse the senior monk of being linked to corruption involving a tax evasion scheme. But politics is also linked to the controversy. Phra Ratchamangalacharn has ties with the Dhammakaya sect, which is associated with former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, toppled by a military coup in 2006. Critics of the senior monk overlap to a large extent with Thaksin's critics.