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Thai king backs post-coup government

Written by: Staff

Bangkok, Dec 5: Thailand's revered monarch backed a post-coup government, saying the country would be run effectively by Prime Minister Surayud Chulanont who has promised to step aside after elections late next year.

Surayud, a retired general and adviser to the king, replaced ousted Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra after a bloodless September 19 coup.

''The prime minister is a strong man. I have to compliment him for taking the job at a time of trouble,'' King Bhumibol Adulyadej said yesterday in a nationally televised address on the eve of his 79th birthday which takes place today.

The king also gave his support to Surayud's cabinet which includes former senior civil servants and military generals as well as academics and business executives.

''If people are old they can use their experience to help people.

This experience can help others more than those who are young and inexperienced who can ruin the country,'' he said.

The king used his annual birthday speech last year to scold Thaksin for not listening to his critics.

Thailand's constitutional monarchy has few formal powers, but the reverence with which the royal family is held means that its rare comments on politics are highly influential.

King Bhumibol, who celebrated 60 years on the throne in June and is the world's longest-reigning monarch, apologised for not standing up during Surayud's opening remarks.

''I don't stand up because I want to conserve my physical energy,'' said the king, who had back surgery earlier this year.


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