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Top Asian News 3:48 p.m. GMT

by October 13, 2016 General

BANGKOK (AP) — King Bhumibol Adulyadej, revered in Thailand as a demigod, a humble father figure and an anchor of stability through decades of upheaval at home and abroad, died Thursday. He was 88 and had been the world’s longest reigning monarch. The Royal Palace said Bhumibol died “in a peaceful state” at Siriraj Hospital in Bangkok, where he had been treated for various health problems for most of the past decade. During a reign that spanned 70 years, the U.S.-born Bhumibol became much more than Thailand’s constitutional monarch. He was the nation’s one constant as myriad governments rose and fell, a gentle leader who used the influence of the throne to unify the nation and rally troops through the Cold War as Thailand’s neighbors fell under communist control.

Thailand’s next king, Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn, carries a son’s burden of living up to a great father. King Bhumibol Adulyadej, who died Thursday at the age of 88, reigned for 70 years with almost legendary rectitude and devotion to his country’s development. The 64-year-old Vajiralongkorn, the second child and only son of Bhumibol and Queen Sirikit, however, is dogged by a reputation that some fear could weaken respect for the monarchy. Bhumibol designated Vajiralongkorn to be his successor more than 40 years ago. There were other possible candidates for succession — including his older sister — and there had been speculation one might be chosen.

BANGKOK (AP) — Thais wept in grief across the nation Thursday after the palace announced the death of their beloved King Bhumibol Adulyadej, the country’s unifying figure and the world’s longest-reigning monarch. He was 88. Hundreds of people gathered at Bangkok’s Siriraj Hospital, where Bhumibol had been treated for a variety of ailments for much of the past decade. Many sobbed loudly, clutching each other in anguish and shouting “Long live the king.” The government announced a 100-day mourning period and a 30-day moratorium on state events. His son, Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn, is to succeed him on the throne. “There is no word to explain my feeling right now,” Gaewkarn Fuangtong, a humanitarian worker, said in Bangkok’s financial district.

WASHINGTON (AP) — Thailand’s King Bhumibol Adulyadej (poo-mee-pon ah-dun-yaa-det), who died Thursday after a 70-year reign, was historically an important bridge in his nation’s close, but recently strained, relations with the United States. Bhumibol was born in the U.S. and was an important ally for Washington in combating the spread of communism in Southeast Asia during the Cold War. He met with six sitting U.S. presidents, starting with Dwight Eisenhower in 1960 and ending with President Barack Obama in 2012. Bhumibol’s passing at age 88 won’t set back those ties. The U.S.-Thai relationship dates back over 180 years, and Washington wants Bangkok to remain a bridgehead for its outreach to the region.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has expressed her condolences on the death of Thailand’s King Bhumibol, saying the monarch modernized and strengthened his country during his seven decades on the throne. Merkel said in a statement Thursday that Bhumibol had “worked tirelessly for the welfare of the Thai people” and steered the country through “political and economic crises.” Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said Bhumibol had contributed significantly to the friendship between Thailand and Germany.

BANGKOK (AP) — King Bhumibol Adulyadej was Thailand’s lone constant as the country hurtled from a traditional agrarian society to a modern, industrializing nation, and as myriad governments rose and fell. His loss is deeply felt by Thai people, who begin a period of extended mourning for the only monarch most of them have ever known. He was the world’s longest-reigning monarch, on the throne for 70 years. He was widely viewed among his people as a gentle leader who used the influence of the throne to unify the nation and rally troops through the Cold War as Thailand’s neighbors fell under communist control.

BANGKOK (AP) — World leaders and Thai people alike are mourning King Bhumibol Adulyadej, who died Thursday at age 88, after 70 years on the throne. The world’s longest-reigning monarch, he was known as a unifying force in Thailand and a king devoted to helping his people: ___ DANAIWUT WIROONPITI, 26, a photographer at the Grand Palace in Bangkok: “Since I was young I’ve seen him work really hard, and now it’s hard to explain. I feel numb inside. He’s the center of all Thai people. It’s like we lost the main pillar of our lives, the person who holds us together.

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka (AP) — The Maldives government said Thursday it has decided to leave the Commonwealth because the grouping of former British colonies has treated it “unjustly and unfairly” and sought to interfere in its politics. The statement by the Foreign Ministry came weeks after the Commonwealth threatened the country with suspension if it failed to show progress in key democratic governance issues by next March. The Commonwealth seems to be convinced “that the Maldives . would be an easy object that can be used, especially in the name of democracy promotion, to increase the organization’s own relevance and leverage in international politics,” the statement said.

SYDNEY (AP) — A state Parliament in Australia on Thursday unanimously passed a motion that described U.S. presidential nominee Donald Trump as “a revolting slug unfit for public office.” Jeremy Buckingham, a lawmaker from the minor Greens party, introduced the motion to the New South Wales Legislative Council, the Parliament’s upper house. “This house … agrees with those who have described Mr. Trump as a ‘revolting slug’ unfit for public office,” the motion said. The house “condemns the misogynist, hateful comments” made by the Republican candidate about women and minorities, including the remarks revealed by media at the weekend “that clearly describe sexual assault,” the motion said.

KATHMANDU, Nepal (AP) — There is one Buddhist nun everyone in Nepal knows by name — not because she’s a religious icon and a UNICEF goodwill ambassador, nor for her work running a girl’s school and a hospital for kidney patients. Ani Choying Drolma is famous as one of the country’s biggest pop stars. With more than 12 albums of melodious Nepali tunes and Tibetan hymns that highlight themes of peace and harmony, the songstress in saffron robes has won hearts across the Himalayan nation and abroad. “I am totally against the conservative, conventional idea of a Buddhist nun,” the 45-year-old nun said.