Source: Voice of America
On March 2, 2004 the Voice of America reported, "Dozens of Buddhist monks are contesting next month's general elections in Sri Lanka in a bid to become an influential political force. Their plunge into politics has drawn fire from several quarters in the predominantly Buddhist country. Red-robed monks chanted prayers and made offerings to Buddha as they launched their election campaign Tuesday in the historic temple town of Kelaniya, on the outskirts of the capital Colombo. About 260 Buddhist monks are vying for parliament's 225 seats under the banner of the National Heritage Party. The elections will be April 2. They vow to cleanse politics, to establish what they call a "righteous state," and to protect the rights of the country's Sinhalese community, which makes up 70 percent of the population. Buddhist monks oppose granting concessions to Sri Lanka's minority Tamil community, which is Hindu. They are severely critical of efforts to end a two-decade long conflict with Tamil rebels by granting more autonomy to Tamil-dominated areas."