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Thai king officially crowned in elaborate royal ceremony – National

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Thai king officially crowned in elaborate royal ceremony National

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Thailand’s King Maha Vajiralongkorn was officially crowned Saturday amid the splendor of the country’s Grand Palace, taking the central role in an elaborate centuries-old royal ceremony that was last held almost seven decades ago.

The coronation represents a renewal of the monarchy’s power after the October 2016 death at age 88 of Vajiralongkorn’s revered father, King Bhumibol Adulyadej. It also comes amid more than a decade of political strife, including a 2014 military coup and a contentious election less than two months ago.

After completing the rites, Vajiralongkorn issued his post-coronation royal command, which is supposed to set the tone for his reign. It closely echoed the words of his father’s first command.

“I shall continue, preserve, and build upon the royal legacy and shall reign with righteousness for the benefit and happiness of the people forever,” the king said, according to an unofficial translation.

The 66-year-old Vajiralongkorn has served as king for more than two years since assuming the throne. On Saturday, he received his crown from the chief Brahmin, a Hindu priest who played a guiding role in the mixed Buddhist-Hindu ceremony, which was televised live across the nation on all channels.

The king, known as Rama X for being the 10th monarch in the Chakri dynasty, then placed the crown atop his head. The “Great Crown of Victory,” said to date from 1782, is 66 centimeters (26 inches) high, weighs 7.3 kilograms (16 pounds) and is ornamented with diamonds set in gold enamel. It was one of several pieces of royal regalia, including the Royal Sword of Victory and the Royal Fan and Fly Whisk, presented in homage to his power.

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Absolute rule by kings ended with a 1932 revolution in Thailand that ushered in a constitutional monarchy. Nevertheless, Thai kings are regarded as almost divine and have been seen as a unifying presence in a country that has seen regular bouts of political instability as it rotates between elected governments and military rule.

Vajiralongkorn since taking the throne has tightened control over royal institutions and acted to increase his influence in his country’s administration. The powers he acquired centralize royal authority in his hands and make explicit his right to intervene in government affairs, especially in times of political crisis.

Like kings before him, Vajiralongkorn is protected by one of the world’s strictest lese majeste laws, which makes criticism of him and other top royals punishable by up to 15 years in prison and has dampened open debate about the monarchy’s role in society.

Vajiralongkorn began Saturday’s coronation proceedings wearing a simple white robe as he entered a small pavilion where he was briefly showered with water from several holy rivers and ponds and other sources. Other water was poured on him from old royal water vessels. The rite, known as the Royal Purification Ceremony, took place amid music from drums, conch shells and other instruments. Outside the palace, artillery was fired in a salute to the monarch.

A second rite, the Royal Anointment Ceremony, completed the consecration portion of his coronation, giving him the legitimacy of being a fully sovereign king. Vajiralongkorn — having changed into gold-embroidered royal vestments — was seated on an octagonal throne, with the sides representing the cardinal points of the compass, and a dignitary seated at each point. Each poured holy water over the king’s hand, along with a ninth representing the heavens.

That rite ended with the monarch being presented with a nine-tiered white umbrella of state, symbolizing his full consecration.

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“This ceremony is significant to Thailand because the monarchy … is a very important institution of our country and is the soul of our nation,” said Naowarat Buakluan, a civil servant. “If you ask why the ceremony is being held this year when his majesty has already ascended the throne, it’s because this is the right moment. Previously we Thais were mourning the loss of our beloved late king.”

Vajiralongkorn inherits a nation in political turmoil, with the powerful army entrenched in government for five years after staging a coup in 2014. An election held in March has been widely seen as rigged through convoluted election laws to favor the military and its preferred candidate, Prayuth Chan-ocha, who led the coup and has headed the government since then.

Vajiralongkorn, said prominent intellectual and social critic Sulak Sivaraksa, “doesn’t like ceremony himself, personally, but when it is performed he wants it to be proper.” When his father was cremated in 2017, Vajiralongkorn “insisted that everything had to be done properly.”

“Likewise the coronation has to be done properly and he doesn’t mind the expense, but it has to be done properly,” Sulak said.

Vajiralongkorn presented his wife with the traditional regalia of a Thai queen as one of his first acts after being crowned. On Wednesday he appointed Suthida Vajiralongkorn Na Ayudhya to be the country’s queen. His father Bhumibol married his bride, Sirikit Kitiyakara, just a week before his own coronation, at which he named her his queen. Now 86 but ailing, she survives him.

WATCH: Thai king says sister’s candidacy for prime minister’ inappropriate’





After the 2 ½ hours of ceremonies ended, Vajiralongkorn stepped from his throne, walked in front of other royal family members and scattered in his path tiny flowers of silver and gold, representing heavenly gifts for them to collect.

Despite not being able to see the king in person, civil servants in uniform and members of the public wearing garb in the royal color of yellow gathered outside the Grand Palace to pay their respects.

“I feel glad and hopeful that the king ascends the throne after his father, King Rama IX, to be a guardian and the hope of the Thai people,” said onlooker Amornrat Wangpan from Uttaradit province, 433 kilometers (269 miles) north of Bangkok. “It will be a civilized era having many things. I feel that Thailand is now opened to the light and now civilized.”

Later Saturday, the king held an audience for members of the royal family, the Privy Council and the Cabinet, among other senior officials, where they vowed their allegiance to king and country, and he promised to work with them for the nation’s benefit.

Some carefully vetted members of the public admitted to the palace grounds got a thrill later when Vajiralongkorn was carried on an ornately decorated palanquin to the Temple of the Emerald Buddha — usually considered Thai Buddhism’s holiest site site — by a specially trained contingent of soldiers dressed in colorful ceremonial uniforms who marched in strict precision. The king, like his predecessors, made the short journey to vow to defend the Buddhist faith, the religion of more than 90% of Thailand’s people.

On Sunday, there will be a 7-kilometer (4.3-mile) royal procession involving 343 men, in which the king will again be carried on his palanquin through nearby city streets to visit four important temples and allow the public to pay homage to him.

Monday will see the king greet the public from the balcony of the Grand Palace in the late afternoon and then hold a reception for the diplomatic corps.



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FOREIGN NEWS

Catholic Bishops react to military coup in Mali

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Catholic Bishops react to military coup in Mali

Contrary to the expectations of the people, the leadership of the Episcopal Conference of Mali (CEM) has termed the Tuesday, August 18 military coup in the West African nation as “regrettable” and “a big failure for our democracy” and called for a change of mentality if the country has to put an end to coups.

In an interview with ACI Africa Wednesday, August 19, made available to RECOWACERAO NEWS AGENCY, RECONA, the President of CEM, Bishop Jonas Dembélé said that the governance challenges the country is facing can be managed through dialogue.

“The military coup that led to the ousting of President Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta is regrettable because we are in a state of law and democracy. This is the second time that Mali has had a military coup as a result of the way in which the country is governed. It is a big failure for our democracy even if there were reasons for it,” Bishop Dembélé told ACI Africa.

“It is true that our country has serious challenges including bad governance, the poor management of the economy, corruption, insecurity and so on,” Bishop Dembélé said and probed, “Why is it that we Malians have not managed to engage in dialogue to be able to discuss these problems and face up to these challenges responsibly?”

“Our leaders, our people lack transparency, they hate those who speak the truth and advocate for good governance. This mentality must change for our country to move on,” the Prelate told ACI Africa August 19.

Bishop Dembélé who is a frontline member of RECOWA-CERAO urged the military officials “to ensure a return to democracy as promised but most especially ensuring the new leadership of the country put the people first and tackle the security challenges facing the nation.”

Asked about the role of the Church in the current crisis, the 57-year-old Prelate noted, “For us the Catholic Church in Mali, our role is to preach peace; our role is to preach dialogue. We shall continue in this path of dialogue for peace just like Cardinal Jean Zerbo and some religious leaders initiated.”

“In a state of law, power is not in the hands of certain individuals but to the people. The anger of our people led to this crisis, but we must work for peace and reconciliation in Mali,” Bishop Dembélé said.

He continued in recollections, “The Bishops in Mali have always issued messages before every election in our country sounding the alert and inviting the government to organize transparent elections, ensure good governance and better management of resources.”
“But it seems our messages are never taken into consideration that is why we find ourselves in this situation today,” the Local Ordinary of Kayes Diocese told ACI Africa and added, “If the opinion of the Episcopal Conference of Mali is needed to mediate in bringing back stability and peace in the country, then we are ready.”

As a way forward, the Bishop urged the people of God in Mali to “seek the path to conversion” and to accept dialogue in the spirit of truth and honesty.
“We all want change in our

country, but this change can only be possible if individually we seek the path to conversion. It is for Malians be they Muslims or Christians or members of traditional religion, to do an examination of conscience and accept personal and community conversion in order to engage in sincere dialogue,” he said.

The Malian Prelate added, “Now there is this coup d’état to demand change we really wonder where change should come from. As long as we don’t change our behavior, our mentality, we will always have a repeat of the current situation.”

On Tuesday, August 18, President Keita announced his resignation and dissolved parliament hours after mutinying soldiers detained him at gunpoint, Aljazeera reported.
“For seven years, I have with great joy and happiness tried to put this country on its feet. If today some people from the armed forces have decided to end it by their intervention, do I have a choice? I should submit to it because I do not want any blood to be shed,” President Keita said August 18 during the televised address to the nation.

Rev. Fr. George Nwachukwu
RECOWACERAO NEWS AGENCY, RECONA

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Harris accepts VP nomination

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Harris accepts VP nomination

Senator Kamala Harris formally accepted the Democratic nomination for vice president on Wednesday following a scathing speech by former President Barack Obama, who said the fate of the nation” depends entirely on the outcome of this election.”

Both Mr. Obama and Harris stressed the importance of voting, with Harris saying “we’re all in this fight together.” Harris sounded an optimistic note by highlighting her personal history and the promise of America, saying she was “so inspired by a new generation.”

“Make no mistake, the road ahead will not be not easy,” she said. “We will stumble. We may fall short. But I pledge to you that we will act boldly and deal with our challenges honestly. We will speak truths. And we will act with the same faith in you that we ask you to place in us.” She called Mr. Trump a “predator” in a speech that came after Mr. Obama issued his most forceful rebuke of his successor to date, saying Mr. Trump “hasn’t grown into the job because he can’t.”

“This president and those in power — those who benefit from keeping things the way they are — they are counting on your cynicism,” Mr. Obama said. “They know they can’t win you over with their policies. So they’re hoping to make it as hard as possible for you to vote, and to convince you that your vote doesn’t matter.

That’s how they win. That’s how they get to keep making decisions that affect your life, and the lives of the people you love. That’s how the economy will keep getting skewed to the wealthy and well-connected, how our health systems will let more people fall through the cracks. That’s how a democracy withers, until it’s no democracy at all.”

Mr. Obama and Hillary Clinton, speaking earlier in the night, both said they had hoped Mr. Trump would rise to the occasion. But they both stressed what they called his failures while in office, with Mr. Obama saying Mr. Trump has shown “no interest in treating the presidency as anything but one more reality show that he can use to get the attention he craves.”

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Mali coup leaders vow to hold elections as history repeats itself

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Mali coup leaders vow to hold elections as history repeats itself

The Malian soldiers who forced President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita to resign in a coup promised early Wednesday to organize new elections after their takeover was swiftly condemned by the international community.

In a statement carried overnight on state broadcaster ORTM, the mutinous soldiers who staged Tuesday’s military coup identified themselves as the National Committee for the Salvation of the People led by Colonel Major Ismael Wagué.

“With you, standing as one, we can restore this country to its former greatness,” Wagué said, announcing that borders were closed and that a curfew was going into effect from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m

The news of Keita’s departure was met with jubilation by anti-government demonstrators in the capital, Bamako, and alarm by former colonial ruler France and other allies and foreign nations.

The U.N. Security Council scheduled a closed meeting Wednesday August 19, 2020 afternoon to discuss the unfolding situation in Mali, where the U.N. has a 15,600-strong peacekeeping mission. Keita, who was democratically elected in a 2013 landslide and re-elected five years later, still had three years left in his term.

But his popularity had plummeted, and demonstrators began taking to the streets calling for his ouster in June.

West African regional bloc ECOWAS had sent mediators to try and negotiate a unity government but those talks fell apart when it became clear that the protesters would not accept less than Keita’s resignation.

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