Thai King Makes First Statement Since Protests Broke Out

Thailand's ailing king spoke Monday for the first time since his country descended into political chaos, but the man seen by many as the best hope for securing a peaceful resolution failed to address the deadly crisis that has shut down parts of Bangkok.

Speaking from the hospital, where he has been for more than seven months, King Bhumibol Adulyadej told newly appointed judges that they should faithfully carry out their duties and help keep the country stable.

"In the country, there might be people who neglect their duties, but you can set an example that there are those who perform their duties strictly and honestly," the 82-year-old king said, Business Week reports.

The US-born King, the world's longest reigning monarch, stepped in to stop bloodshed during a student uprising in 1973 and again during antimilitary street protests in 1992. Both events lasted just days.

At least 26 people have been killed and nearly 1,000 wounded since the Red Shirts began occupying parts of the capital, closing down five-star hotels and shopping malls and devastating the country's vital tourism industry.

The Red Shirts consist mainly of poor, rural supporters of Thaksin Shinawatra, the former Prime Minister, and pro-democracy activists who opposed the military coup that ousted him in 2006.

They believe the Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva's government – backed by the urban elite – is illegitimate because military pressure and complex legal manoeuvring brought it to power, according to

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