Thailand is waiting anxiously for news about the condition of the 88 year old King Bhumibol. Many have gathered in prayer outside the hospital in Bangkok where the king is.
The political importance of the king’s condition was proven at the stock exchange in Bangkok Wednesday after news came that the king’s condition was unstable.
The main index dropped throughout the day, but is now recovering somewhat. The baht, Thailand’s currency, experienced its strongest decline in three years.
Political scientist Hugo Stokke at the Chr. Mikkelsensinstiutt says there is some uncertainty in Thailand about who will take over after the king, and that explains the great turmoil in the country now.
It is most likely that the crown prince, the successor to the throne, will take power.
“But the crown prince is not very well liked. He is considered to be a playboy.
“Nor is it clear how the relationship between the crown prince and the military is,” says Stokke.
Princess Sirindhorn, while popular, is not married and has no children, which is a problem,” he adds.
“Because of uncertainty about who will take over, the regime has chosen to keep information about the king’s health secret,” Stokke thinks.
“The King has been the symbol of stability and a focal point for the country,” he said.
King Bhumibol is the world’s longest-reigning living monarch. He took the throne in 1946 and was formally crowned in 1950.
Source: NTB scanpix / Norway Today