16 December 2017

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10/13/2016 THAILAND

King Bhumibol dies at age 88

The monarch died at 15:52 local time. For three days his condition was "unstable." He suffered from difficulty breathing, kidney and liver problems. Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha rushes back to Bangkok, where he met with Crown Prince Vajiralongkorn. Citizens in mourning. Bhumibol was the longest reigning monarch in the world (70 years).

Bangkok (AsiaNews / Agencies) - King Bhumibol Adulyadej, 88, died at 15:52 (local time) in Siriraj hospital in Bangkok. The royal palace issued a communiqué, declaring that the monarch died in peace, and that all family members were present at his bedside.

The king, the ninth of the Chakri dynasty, would have turned 89 next December 5th. Millions of Thai were anxious about his health. October 9 last October 9 last, a palace note announced that King "is still unstable" and that he has been attached to an artificial respirator: "Blood tests  - said the message - show that he has an infection and that his liver is not functioning properly". Premier Prayu Chan-o-cha has canceled events scheduled for today and hurried back to Bangkok. The parliament met in an extraordinary session.

King Bhumibol, 88, celebrated 70 years of his reign last June, which made him at the time, the longest-reigning monarch in the world. He is the symbol of unity of Thailand, guarantor of the Constitution, the political arbiter and protector of all religions. Bhumibol has not appeared in public for more than a year and in recent months has suffered from respiratory problems, kidney dysfunctions, hydrocephalus and heart problems.

At news of the deterioration of the king’s health, the Bangkok stock exchange dropped almost  7% and the Bhat (national currency) lost against the dollar.

Bhumibol was the most beloved figure by the Thais, most of whom have lived all my life under his rule. For days, millions of Thai have opted to dress only in pink clothes, hoping to bring good luck to the ruler’s health. Suwanna Kaennumtiang, a 62 year old woman, was among the many people gathered outside the hospital where Bhumibol was admitted: "The king is very important for us - she had said - because he has done everything for  his people". Holding a portrait of him in his hand, she adds: "He's like my angel, I pray every day to this photo."

The king's death reopens the question of his succession. Prince Vajiralongkorn, 63, is first in line of succession.

To protect the cult of the person of the king, Thailand has some of the toughest laws of lese majesty in the world with sentences of up to 15 years in prison. However, critics say they have been exploited in recent months by the military junta in power to repress dissent and rule with an iron grip over the country.

See also

02/12/2016 10:07:00 THAILAND
Rama X: Thailand has a new king

Prince Vajiralongkorn was proclaimed monarch yesterday, making him the tenth ruler of the Chakri dynasty. The new king will be called Maha Vajiralongkorn Bodindradebayavarangkul, but will be known as Rama X.


14/10/2016 14:33:00 THAILAND
King Bhumibol’s death "will favor the hegemony of the military junta"

AsiaNews sources speak of the delicate phase of transition that awaits Thailand. The one-year national mourning "will serve to further postpone democratic elections." Crown Prince "is not loved but will rise to the throne at the behest of the military." These have promoted the cult of the person of the monarch "to anethestitize people to their responsibilities and their rights."

20/10/2016 16:07:00 THAILAND
Military junta reassures Thais that they would soon have a new king

Parliament will shortly invoke Article 23 of the Constitution, which regulates the royal succession. Prince Vajiralongkorn will be crowned after the cremation of his father, Bhumibol Adulyadej. Prime Minister Chan-o-cha tells Thais they “should not be afraid or worried”.

05/04/2006 THAILAND
Opposition wants Thaksin to step aside . . . for good
PM's resignation is not enough. Three opposition parties want Thaksin to quit party leadership. A leader of the People's Alliance for Democracy calls for light to be shed on how public companies were managed under the Thaksin administration. It also calls for a probe into election.

09/06/2016 10:18:00 THAILAND
Bangkok, King Bhumibol celebrates 70 years of reign in hospital

At 88 years of age he is the longest reigning monarch in the world. Much loved by the people, he is the symbol of unity of the country and protector of all religions. Two days ago he underwent heart surgery and his health is of concern. Doubts shroud succession.

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