Monks rally for a Buddhist Thailand

Hundreds demand Buddhism be declared the national religion in imminent new charter.

    The call has raised fears that tensions in
    the Muslim south could be inflamed [AFP]
    The proposal has split Thais, with some worried that it could inflame tensions in the Muslim south of the country, where three years of violence have left more than 2,000 people dead.
     
    Previous Thai constitutions have never declared a state religion, although about 90 per cent of Thais consider themselves Buddhists.
     
    Supporters of the move want to see an existing clause in the constitution which states that the king must be a Buddhist and upholder of all religions, to include an addition making Buddhism the national religion.
     
    The government installed by a military coup last September has said the new constitution will help guide the kingdom back to democracy.
     
    It says a draft of the charter, due to be released on April 26, will be put to a national referendum in September before elections expected in December.
     
    However, critics have said they fear the new constitution will be used as a tool by coup leaders to cement the power of the military, long a powerful force in Thai politics.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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