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Thailand’s New King Makes 1st Public Appearance
International

Thailand’s New King Makes 1st Public Appearance

Thailand’s new king on Friday made his first public appearance since ascending the throne the previous day, ending a period of uncertainty since the death of his father, King Bhumibol Adulyadej, on Oct. 13.
King Maha Vajiralongkorn Bodindradebayavarangkun, 64, took part in a merit-making ceremony at Bangkok’s Grand Palace to mark 50 days since his father’s death plunged the country into grief. Civil servants dressed in black and white, the official colors of mourning, lined the streets to the palace as the new king’s convoy passed, Reuters reported.
King Maha Vajiralongkorn, who was then the crown prince, surprised some when he asked to delay his succession following the death of his father, leaving the throne unoccupied for seven weeks.
His official taking of the throne, in a brief ceremony televised late on Thursday, ends that unprecedented interregnum while raising new questions about the palace’s relationship with the generals who have been in power since a 2014 coup.
The military government has made it clear it wants to oversee economic and political developments for years to come, even after a general election it has promised to hold in 2017.
Critics say a military-backed constitution, which would need the new king’s stamp of approval, will consolidate the army’s power, but financial analysts were upbeat about the outlook.
Southeast Asia’s second-largest economy has suffered over more than a decade of on-off political unrest stemming from confrontation between the old royalist establishment and new populist political forces.

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