In Thailand, anti-government protesters and security forces entered a tentative truce just in time to honor the birthday of the country's king. This comes after days of demonstrations railing against the policies of Thailand's Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra. Demonstrators accuse Shinawatra of being a stand-in for her brother, deposed prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra. Thaksin was overthrown in a bloodless coup in 2006. Japanese public broadcaster NHK reports from Bangkok with the latest.
On Thursday morning the King called for solidarity in an address aired across the country. The king is the longest ruling monarch in the world. Although, he has no official political power under the Thai constitution, he exerts great influence. In past political crises, the king has paved the way for mediation by summoning rival groups to appear together before him. That's why attention has been focused on whether his address on Thursday would help end the recent turmoil. The king appealed for solidarity without showing support for either of the rival political groups. The most recent conflict was triggered when Prime Minister Yingluck attempted to railroad a controversial amnesty bill through parliament last month. The opposition reacted sharply, saying the bill would let Yingluck's older brother, former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, return to Thailand. He was ousted in a 2006 military coup and is now living in self-imposed exile. On Thursday anti-government protesters continued sit-ins on the grounds of government offices. They plan to restart demonstrations on Friday. The rift is a confrontation between those who are benefitting from Thailand's economic growth and those who are being left behind. The opposition group's base is the urban middle class. Thaksin's support is rooted in the farming villages he courted with generous aid programs to win elections. With deep seeded issues unresolved the lull on the king's birthday is unlikely to last long.