The monks will be pitted against minority Tamils, who are mainly Hindus and also want to hold the balance of power after the April 2 election called by President Chandrika Kumaratunga nearly four years ahead of schedule.rn
rn The majority Sinhalese community, which is mainly Buddhist, is divided down the middle between two coalition parties run by Kumaratunga and her nemesis Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe.rn
rn Buddhists account for 69 percent of the countrys 18.6 million population while Hindus are the biggest religious minority with 15.5 percent.
Muslims and Christians form about 7.5 percent each.rn
rn “With the kind of numbers of Buddhists in the country, we should at least in theory have the possibility of becoming the main decisive power,” monk Athuraliya Rathana said.rn
rn “But we dont think we will be able to awaken all the Buddhists to support our cause during a short campaign. However, we should have sufficient power to influence the formation of a future government.”rn