King calls on Thais to 'work together'

King calls on Thais to 'work together'
Thai King Bhumibol Adulyadej

BANGKOK- Thai King Bhumibol Adulyadej has urged his countrymen to work together for the good of the nation as it encounters its worst political unrest since 2010.

The King, who turned 86 yesterday, said in his traditional birthday address that Thailand had come so far because its people were united and supported one another.

"All Thais should realise this and perform their duties for the common interest and for the security of Thailand," he said in a five-minute speech that was punctuated with many pauses.

The world's longest-reigning monarch made no direct comment on the ongoing protests that turned violent over the past week. Protesters want to install a royally appointed prime minister to helm political reforms in the country.

The protesters, who aim to cripple the government by occupying various ministries or related offices, scaled down their activities temporarily from Tuesday after the authorities unexpectedly let them through barricades.

The almost month-long campaign, led by former opposition lawmaker Suthep Thaugsuban, is directed against the "Thaksin regime", in reference to former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra. He was ousted in 2006, but is seen to control the nation through his sister and premier Yingluck.

The protesters call themselves the People's Democratic Reform Committee, and are supported by many from the elite, royalists, urban middle class and opposition Democrats.

But critics say the anti-corruption and anti-nepotism drive is a mere attempt to ride roughshod over the will of the electorate, which has repeatedly returned Thaksin-backed parties to power over the past decade.

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