Making a record in Sri Lanka's election history, the Buddhist monk Venerable Battaramulle Silaratana will run for the president in the polls scheduled to be held next January, party officials said on Saturday. He will be the country’s first Buddhist monk to contest presidency representing his own political party Janasetha Peramuna under the party symbol of tractor, officials from his party said. Contrary to the popular demand of the opposition - abolition of the executive presidency - the Buddhist monk wants the executive powers to remain with the president as he believes that the unity and stability of the country depend on executive powers of the leader. The posters of Silaratana Thera have come up on the walls around Colombo. The Buddhist monk said both the ruling alliance led by President Mahinda Rajapaksa and the opposition led by former Army Commander Sarath Fonseka have approached him but would only support those who agree with his policies. Among his main pledges are giving the Buddhism foremost place, guarantee the equal rights of all communities (Sinhalese, Tamils, Muslims and other ethnic groups), making Sinhala, Tamil and English state languages, as well as implementing an economic policy based on agriculture. Fonseka, who was silence about the monk’s entry into politics, has confirmed that he would be the opposition’s common candidate in the forthcoming presidential polls. He said he would announce his future plans at his first media conference on Sunday. The presidential candidates increased to four with the decision of the New Leftist Front leader Wickramabahu Karunaratne to run for president. The presidential election will be held on Jan. 26 next year.
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