Thailand’s king appoints new Buddhist patriarch

Source: Reuters

By Aukkarapon Niyomyat and Patpicha Tanakasempipat | BANGKOK

Thailand’s king has appointed a new Buddhist supreme patriarch, the prime minister said on Tuesday, ending more than a year of tussling over the position that had been fuelled by politics and allegations of corruption.

Somdet Phra Maha Muniwong, 89, the abbot of Wat Rajabopit, will be the head of more than 300,000 monks in the Southeast Asian country, where 95 percent of people are Buddhist. The country’s last supreme patriarch, Somdet Phra Nyanasamvara, died in 2013 aged 100.

The Sangha Supreme Council of monks had proposed their favoured candidate last year. But the junta vetoed him and the military-appointed parliament granted new King Maha Vajiralongkorn the power to pick a chief monk himself instead of relying on the council.

Somdet Phra Maha Muniwong was among five senior monks nominated by Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha for royal consideration.

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