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September 25, 2017

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Thai king urges firm, clear verdict in key case

Thailand's King Bhumibol Adulyadej advised top judges Thursday to render a firm and clear verdict in a case that could dissolve the country's top political parties, warning that the nation's security was at risk.

The king, a constitutional monarch who is revered by virtually all Thais, gave the advice in a speech to Administrative Court judges that was shown on all national television channels Thursday evening.

Bhumibol rarely speaks out directly on political or policy matters, saving his immense influence for times of national crisis. However, it was the second time in little over a year that the king has used the forum of a speech to judges to express his desire that they take a hand in solving the nation's problems in time of trouble.

The Constitutional Court will rule May 30 on whether the former ruling Thai Rak Thai Party and the Democrat Party violated election law last year, which could lead to their being disbanded.

"I urge you to prepare yourself to be ready to criticize or be criticized in the capacity of learned men to prevent the country from falling into a crisis. If you don't do anything, the country will fall. It is your responsibility," the 79-year-old king said.

Concern has been expressed by the media and some public figures that disorder may result from the court's decision, particularly if it decided to dissolve the Thai Rak Thai Party of former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra. A former deputy leader of Thai Rak Thai earlier this week threatened to mobilize thousands of protesters if the court ruled against it.

The practical meaning of the king's advice was not clear, though it seemed to suggest that the judges not make a compromise ruling to attempt to please all parties involved.

The king, who spoke standing but in a weak, rasping voice, was careful not to suggest where he stood on the merits of the case.

"In my mind, I have a judgment but I cannot say," he said, without further explanation. "Either way the ruling goes, it will be bad for the country, there will be mistakes."

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