King's Illness Complicates Thai Tensions

Monarch fails to appear as politicians battle for control
By Jason Farago,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 5, 2008 9:10 AM CST
Thailand's King Bhumibol Adulyadej reviews the Royal Guards at the Royal Plaza Tuesday, Dec. 2, 2008, in Bangkok, Thailand.   (AP Photo/David Longstreath)
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(Newser) – Politicians in Thailand are squabbling as they seek to form a new government, days after a court barred the prime minister and other leading figures from holding office. But as many Thais looked to their long-serving king for guidance, the revered 81-year-old monarch canceled his traditional birthday speech yesterday, citing ill health. King Bhumibol Adulyadej was reported to be suffering from bronchitis, the LA Times reports.

If the king has a serious illness, that could further complicate efforts to end Thailand's political stalemate. The dissolved People's Power Party, allied with ousted PM Thaksin Shinawatra, has regrouped into a new political formation. But the People's Alliance for Democracy, the monarchist coalition that led 6 months of protests, says the new party is yet another Thaksin front.