BANGKOK – 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.