Buddhist monks meet in Kandy
Buddhist monks meet in Kandy

Sri Lanka: Security beefed up as Buddhist monks meet over presidential vote in Kandy

ANI | Updated: Jul 07, 2019 20:17 IST

Colombo [Sri Lanka], July 7 (ANI): Security was beefed up in the Sri Lankan highland town of Kandy on Sunday as hardline Buddhist monks gathered for their first big assembly since Easter attacks by Islamist militants on churches and luxury hotels that killed more than 250 on April 21.
Galagoda Aththe Gnanasara, the influential head of the Buddhist nationalist group Bodu Bala Sena (BBS), summoned as many as 10,000 clergymen from across the country to attend the meet, Al Jazeera reported.
The group said the meeting will decide who to back in the presidential elections scheduled to be held later this year in Lanka, where Buddhists make up about 70 per cent of the population. The rest include ethnic Tamils, who are mostly Hindus, and Muslims.
Dressed in orange, Gnanasara visited one of Buddhism's most sacred temples in Kandy on Sunday where a relic believed to be the Buddha's tooth is kept. Later in the day, the monk, who has faced allegations of inciting violence against Muslims, will address the gathering.
After visiting the temple, the monk told reporters that the gathering would take a "historical decision" to promote the development and security of the Sinhalese - the predominantly Buddhist ethnic group in Sri Lanka.
"Today, the Sinhala ethnicity, which has developed this country historically, has become very weak ... There is no leader who holds responsibility for Sinhalese," he said.
"We will only turn back after creating a leader to the country and getting the power to Sinhalese. Trust us," he added, adding some people were trying to sabotage the convention by spreading fears of possible riots.
Police and armed army officials lined the streets around the venue of the gathering and were also present outside other Buddhist temples in the town centre.
"The army is assisting the police on security under the emergency law," said military spokesman, Sumith Atapattu. (ANI)