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September 20, 2017

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Thailand parliament invites prince to become new king

BANGKOK--Thailand's parliament on Tuesday invited Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn to become the next king, resolving lingering anxiety over his accession following his father's death last month.

The country has been plunged into mourning since widely revered King Bhumibol Adulyadej died on Oct. 13, ending a remarkable seven-decade reign and removing a key pillar of unity in a bitterly divided nation.

Tuesday's move ends a period of uncertainty sparked by the junta making the surprise announcement after Bhumibol's death that the prince had asked to delay his official proclamation so he could mourn.

"I will invite the Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn to succeed to the throne and become king of the Thai people," Pornpetch Wichitcholchai, head of the rubber stamp National Legislative Assembly said.

Lawmakers then stood up and replied: "Long live the king."

The parliamentary endorsement came after Thailand's cabinet officially submitted Vajiralongkorn's name earlier in the day.

Prawit Wongsuwan, deputy prime minister and the junta's number two, said the prince's ascension was "proceeding step-by-step" according to the country's arcane succession rules.

According to protocol, the assembly speaker will now seek a royal audience with the prince to invite him to ascend the throne, the last step before being proclaimed the new monarch.

Prawit said that would likely happen "either tomorrow or the day after."

Vajiralongkorn, 64, has been the named successor to Bhumibol for more than four decades.

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