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Buddhist Temple Scene of Holy-Day Coup

PORTLAND, Ore. (CN) - An internal power struggle triggered the takeover of a Lao Buddhist temple by former members of the board of directors, who rushed the temple on the holiest day of the Lao Buddhist year and re-installed their leader, the ousted board members claim in Multnomah County Court.

Several overthrown directors of the Wat Buddhatham Aram in Portland sued Rev. Kahmsene Kabouakham and his followers, saying they illegally took control of the temple on July 4, 2008.

Before the takeover, Kabouakham had resigned as chief abbot, along with his "management team," amid allegations that he had embezzled funds from the temple.

A new board took over soon after and changed temple policy to curtail the powers of the chief abbott, the suit says.

Several months later, on the "holiest day in the Lao Buddhist year," members of the resigned management team, accompanied by a group of men wearing the "head, arm and leg bands made from Buddhist saffron shredding" took over the temple through intimidation and have since re-installed Kabouakham and taken control of the temple's finances, the lawsuit states.

The plaintiffs demand a restraining order stopping Kabouakham's group from "sequestering or transferring" any of the temple's funds and to inspect the temple's finances. They also seek a court declaration that Kabouakham's transfer of temple assets was illegal.

They are represented by George Mead in West Linn, Ore.

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