Thai protesters and police have been observing a temporary truce in honor of their monarch's birthday. Thailand’s revered king has urged the nation to work together for "stability" following anti-government protests.
After several days of street clashes during protests aimed at ousting Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, demonstrators and security officials have paused in Bangkok on Thursday in honor of King Bhumibol Adulyadej's 86th birthday.
Thousands of people wearing the king's signature color yellow crowded the streets near the king's seaside palace in the central coastal town of Hua Hin, waving Thai flags and shouting "long live the King!"
At a formal ceremony, attended by Thai dignitaries including the embattled prime minister, 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 national television channels.
King Bhumibol, the world's longest-serving monarch, is viewed as a major moral authority and unifying figure in the country. Violence or political action on his birthday would be viewed as a major sign of disrespect.
A lull in protests
On Tuesday, the prime minister ordered security forces to stop their resistance after several days of street battles with masked mobs that have left four people dead and more than 250 injured. Yingluck said police would no longer use force against protesters trying to storm her offices or the city police headquarters.
Protesters, however, have vowed to continue to rally against Yingluck's government and keep her controversial brother, former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, from returning to power. Yingluck has been accused of being a puppet for Thaksin, who was ousted in a 2006 coup and lives in a self-imposed exile to avoid a being jailed for corruption.
Tensions began to flare early in November, when the government tried and failed to pass legislation that would have exonerated Thaksin.
Demonstrators, who cleaned up a rally site in Bangkok in preparation for the birthday, have vowed to resume their street action on Friday.
hc/pfd (Reuters, AFP, AP)