12/05/2013, 00.00
THAILAND
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Thai king marks birthday with call for peace and solidarity amid protest truce

Today, Thailand celebrates the 86th birthday of King Bhumibol Adulyadej . The monarch addresses the nation and invites the people to preserve "the public interest, stability and security." The anti-government protests promise to continue after festivities. AsiaNews sources : intellectuals, government, military and religious leaders want a peaceful resolution of the dispute.

Bangkok ( AsiaNews) - In a speech to the nation on the occasion of his 86th birthday today, the Thai King Bhumibol Adulyadej urged his people to collaborate and show mutual support, for the good of the country. In a period characterized by opposition protests against the Shinawatra government, with tens of thousands of people marching through the center of Bangkok, the elderly monarch spoke of the principle of unity . Just yesterday the "Yellow Shirts " ( the anti-government demonstrators , ed) announced a truce to pay homage to the king , a figure beloved and revered by the people like a god , they have, however, added that the protests will continue once the festivities are over.

In a speech delivered from the palace in the coastal town of Hua Hin , the monarch pointed out that Thailand has long been a country at peace because of the "unity " of his people. An implicit reference to the recent clashes, which caused four deaths and dozens of injuries . The objective of the uprising is the resignation of the government led by Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra , accused of being a "puppet" in the hands of her brother Thaksin , a billionaire and former prime minister who fled into exile to escape a two year prison sentence.

In reality , the current government was democratically elected in 2011 and on 28 November last easily passed a no-confidence motion tabled by the opposition in Parliament (297 votes against 134).

Thousands of people headed towards the royal palace today, hoping to see and greet King Bhumibol Adulyadej . Authorities put on special trains and buses from major cities and , in particular, from Bangkok. It is well-established tradition that the king give a speech to the nation on his birthday, this year the monarch drew attention to peoples duty to help each other, for the good of the country.

"All Thais should realise this point a lot and behave and perform our duties accordingly - said the king, before the authorities including the same Prime Minister Shinawatra and the highest offices of government. "Our duty for the sake of the public, for stability, security for our nation of Thailand " . The monarchy has no official political role , but it carries a strong moral authority and enjoys the loyalty and blind obedience of the army and the military, the true eminence grise of the country.

AsiaNews sources in Bangkok, speaking on condition of anonymity, explained that "most likely" the King's appeal "will not lead to any great results." The demonstrations of respect and love for the monarch is a facade, "everyone says they love the king" but, in many cases, exploit and abuse his figure" and it has always been so"." However, there appears to be "a window of opportunity" for a peaceful resolution of the conflict: "The government - confirms the source - is doing everything possible to enter into dialogue, although there is nothing concrete. Meanwhile, intellectuals and Buddhist religious leaders are also pushing for talks and the army do not intend to intervene in a violent way . , there are still hopes to put an end to tensions in a peaceful manner".

The anti -government protests - a mix of middle class, royalists and inhabitants of the areas to the south of the country - are the most impressive since 2010, when the kingdom was shaken by a series of events that ended with a bloodbath and the deaths of 90 civilians . The latest unrest was triggered by a government amnesty bill , which would (among other things) have granted the opportunity to Thaksin Shinawatra to return from exile . The proposal, which was rejected recently by the Upper House of Parliament (the Senate), has also angered the supporters of the executive, because it would have pardoned those responsible for the massacres of 2010.

 

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