Angry Tones

Dozens of Buddhist monks and their followers blocked a main highway to President Chandrika Kumaratunga’s home Friday demanding she withdraw plans to enter into an aid sharing deal with Tamil Tiger rebels, witnesses said. Dozens of Buddhist monks and their followers blocked a main highway to President Chandrika Kumaratunga’s home Friday demanding she withdraw plans to enter into an aid sharing deal with Tamil Tiger rebels, witnesses said. Saffron-robed monks of the hard-line National Heritage Party held up traffic in the city centre amid reports that some of them were threatening self-immolation, a threat widely used but rarely carried out in Sri Lanka.

“We will not leave empty handed,” a monk said using a loudspeaker while dozens marched along Chatham Street, one of the main access routes to the tightly-guarded president’s house.

Anti-riot squads and heavily armed police and troops were seen behind barbed wire barricades while a small group of protestors were allowed into the high-security compound for talks with Kumaratunga’s aides.

Other senior Buddhist leaders had earlier held talks with Kumaratunga, who faces a wave of protests against her plan to share foreign tsunami aid with Tamil Tiger rebels.