Sri Lanka’s most senior Buddhist monks, known as Mahanayake Theros, have written a letter to President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, asking him to take immediate steps to ease the economic and social difficulties faced by the people and to conduct the local government elections on time12.
The Mahanayake Theros of the three main Buddhist sects – Malwathu, Asgiri and Ramanna – said that they are deeply concerned about the rising cost of living, unemployment, poverty, corruption and environmental degradation that have affected millions of Sri Lankans1. They said that these issues have been aggravated by the COVID-19 pandemic and the mismanagement of public funds by successive governments1.
The Mahanayake Theros also expressed their dissatisfaction with the delay in holding the local government elections that were due in 2018 but have been postponed several times due to various reasons1. They said that holding free and fair elections is a democratic right of the people and a duty of the government1.
The Mahanayake Theros reminded the President that he was elected by a majority of voters who expected him to fulfil his promises and uphold good governance1. They urged him to listen to their proposals that they had submitted earlier on April 4, 2022, which included constitutional reforms, electoral reforms, judicial reforms and national reconciliation3.
The Mahanayake Theros warned that if their proposals are ignored or rejected, they will be compelled to issue a Sangha Order (a religious decree) that will mobilise all Buddhist monks and lay followers against the government1. They said that they are ready to take any action necessary to protect Buddhism and safeguard the rights and welfare of the people1.