At least 300 people, including about 100 members of the Pagoda Boys association, gathered for a Buddhist ceremony at Wat Ounalom Tuesday morning to pray for peace and happiness during the post-election political stalemate.
Tep Vong, supreme patriarch of the Mohanikaya sect, presided over the affair, at which participants walked and prayed around the central temple three times before releasing sparrows from six cages.
Other Mohanikaya officials present said the ceremony would be carried out in the sect’s pagodas across the country. They said the ceremony was intended to ensure peace, development and adequate rain.
Seng Sovannara—president of the Pagoda Boys, also known as the Pagoda Children, Intelligentsia and Students Association—said Tuesday that peace and happiness were the main priorities.
The Pagoda Boys are known to organize against demonstrations critical of Prime Minister Hun Sen. In recent years they have repeatedly dispersed peaceful protesters with intimidation and beatings.
A statement issued by the Pagoda Boys said the organization’s leaders met with Tep Vong on Sept 2 to request that he preside over the prayers for peace.
“Please avoid violence, barbarity and disrespect of the laws,” Tep Vong told the assembled.
The formation of a new government could be stalled if the victorious CPP and the alliance between Funcinpec and the Sam Rainsy Party stick by their demands.