Thai's in shock as king is laid low

Friday 05 December 2008 01:00

Thailand's revered king has failed to deliver his traditional birthday speech, dashing hopes that the address would help resolve the political paralysis and unify a divided nation.

King Bhumibol Adulyadej, who turns 81 today, was unable to deliver the address live on radio, "because he was a little sick", his son, Crown Prince Vajiralongkorn, told dignitaries gathered at the Dusit Palace. The king's ill-health could not come at a worse time for Thailand and his absence comes as a shock given his interventions in previous political crises. The protest group, the People's Alliance for Democracy, ended its siege of two airports on Wednesday after a court ruling ousted the Prime Minister, Somchai Wongsawat, and disbanded the top three parties in the ruling coalition for committing electoral fraud. Other members of his coalition are preparing to join new parties and choose a new prime minister, a move that could once again prompt the protest alliance to take to the streets.

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