Thai parliament grants king power to name Buddhist patriarch

BANGKOK (AP) —  Thailand's military-appointed parliament has granted the king absolute power in naming a supreme patriarch, the top ecclesiastical position of Thai Buddhism.

The amendment approved Thursday means the king can eliminate the traditional vote of the senior monks' body, the Supreme Sangha Council.

The power struggle over leadership of the Buddhist hierarchy in Thailand centers around 91-year old Somdet Phra Maha Ratchamangalacharn, who has been accused of corruption in a dispute that mixes politics and religion. He has ties to the Dhammakaya sect, which has a reputation for encouraging materialism and showiness and is unpopular with mainstream Buddhists.

Phra Ratchamangalacharn was nominated by the council to be the supreme patriarch in January but was never formally endorsed by the prime minister. He is now unlikely to get the top job.