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Thai king pleads for stability, amid protests VP

05 December 2013, 14:10

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 with a lull in tensions after violent anti-government protests.

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 Thai 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 Thai television channels.

'Long live the King'

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

Weeping supporters shouted "long live the King!" and waved Thai national flags as the royal convoy made a brief tour of the town's streets before returning to the palace.

Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn and Yingluck both made speeches in praise of the monarch at the solemn birthday ceremony, the first to be held in Hua Hin.

Demonstrators, who cleaned up a key rally site in old Bangkok in preparation for the birthday festivities, have vowed to pause in reverence on Thursday but to resume their street action on Friday.

King Bhumibol, the world's longest-serving monarch, has suffered from a range of ailments in recent years, but left the Bangkok hospital where he had lived since 2009 to move to his Hua Hin palace with Queen Sirikit earlier this year.

Any political action or violence on his birthday would be viewed as a serious sign of disrespect.



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