Thai king appeals for stability after protests

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A Thai man walking past a photograph of King Bhumibol Adulyadej kept for sale at a side street on the eve of his birthday in Bangkok on Wednesday. AFP PHOTO

A Thai man walking past a photograph of King Bhumibol Adulyadej kept for sale at a side street on the eve of his birthday in Bangkok on Wednesday. AFP PHOTO

BANGKOK: Thailand’s revered King Bhumibol Adulyadej urged the nation to work together for “stability” in a speech on Thursday on his 86th birthday, marked by an easing of tensions after violent anti-government protests.

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The kingdom remains on edge following several days of street clashes during demonstrations aimed at overthrowing Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra and curbing the political influence of her brother Thaksin.

Demonstrators and police in Bangkok have been observing a temporary truce since Wednesday ahead of the birthday celebrations for King Bhumibol, who is treated as a near-deity by many Thais.

At a formal ceremony attended by dignitaries including the embattled premier, her political rivals and the nation’s military heads, the king said the country “has been peaceful for a long time because everybody worked together.”

“Every Thai should be aware of this and should perform their role for the benefit of the country, which is the stability and security of the country,” he said in the speech broadcast on all television channels.

King Bhumibol, seen as a moral authority in the deeply divided nation, did not specifically mention the recent unrest.

The streets near his seaside palace were a sea of yellow Thursday as thousands of people wearing his signature color turned out to celebrate in the central coastal town of Hua Hin, where he has lived since leaving hospital in August.

AFP

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