Asia

Thailand's King Bhumibol Adulyadej returns to hospital

Thailand's King Bhumibol Adulyadej (10 May 2015) Image copyright AP
Image caption The king was last seen when he left hospital on 10 May

Thailand's King Bhumibol Adulyadej has gone back into hospital, only a few weeks after being discharged.

A statement from the palace on Sunday said he was undergoing tests at the Siriraj Hospital in Bangkok but did not say when he was likely to return to his home in the coastal city of Hua Hin.

The 87-year-old monarch has been in poor health for some years.

He is revered by Thais and is often seen as an arbiter in the country's divided political arena.

He has rarely been seen in public since he went into hospital last October to have his gall bladder removed.

In early May, he briefly appeared at events marking the 65th anniversary of his coronation, then a week later he left hospital for his Hua Hin home.

The king's popularity stems partly from his long reign, but he is also seen as a pillar of stability in Thailand. Strict lese majeste laws ban any criticism of him or the royal family.

Although he has no formal political role, many think King Bhumibol is needed now more than ever. Thailand is currently governed by the military, which took power in a coup last year.

General Prayut Chan-ocha led the takeover and is now the country's prime minister. He has promised to hand back power to a civilian government, but there is no firm timetable for when that will happen.

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