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Thailand’s king grants inmate royal pardon after paying respects to one of Thailand’s most sacred Buddhist relics.



Source: Reuters

Thailand’s King Maha Vajiralongkorn conducted final rituals on Friday in preparation for three days of ceremonies for his elaborate coronation, which will also be marked by the pardoning and release from jail of some prisoners.

The coronation, which takes place from Saturday to Monday, will be the first the country has seen in 69 years, since his father, the late King Bhumibol Adulyadej, was crowned in 1950.

“Long live the king,” chanted a group of people dressed in yellow, an auspicious color in Thailand, as the king and his new queen walked on a red carpet to the Grand Palace, shielded from the hot afternoon sun by a big yellow umbrella.

The king lit auspicious candles at 4:19 p.m. (9:19 GMT), a time that court astrologers determined was propitious, as 80 Buddhist monks chanted.

Yellow is particularly significant as it is the color of Monday In Thai culture, which is steeped in astrology, the day the king was born, and also the color of the sun, which represents the monarch in the cosmos.

Thais have been urged to wear yellow until the end of July, the king’s birth month.

Earlier on Friday, a senior palace official transferred a golden plaque inscribed with the king’s official name and title, his horoscope and the royal seal from the Temple of the Emerald Buddha to the Grand Palace in preparation for Saturday’s events.

The three items, which were made in a three-hour ritual last week, will be presented to the king by the chief Brahmin, along with five royal regalia, the symbols of kingship in Thailand.


Ahead of the grand ceremonies, the king said he would grant royal pardons to some prisoners to “give them a chance to become good citizens”, according to the Royal Gazette.

The order, which will take effect on Saturday, listed many criteria of prisoners eligible for the pardon, including those with disabilities, chronic or terminal diseases, or those within a year of completing their sentence.

The king will also reduce sentences for some prisoners, including those imprisoned for life, and commute some death sentences to life.

It is not clear how many people will qualify for pardons, and the Department of Corrections said it would finalize a list of eligible prisoners, and release them or commute their sentences, within 120 days.

The order did not exclude foreigners, nor did it exclude prisoners convicted of insulting the monarchy, a crime known as lese-majeste, which is punishable by up to 15 years in prison.

Jatupat Boonpattararaksa, a prominent student activist who was sentenced in 2017 to two and a half years in jail for sharing a Thai-language BBC profile of the king is expected to be released next week, his lawyer told Reuters.

Jatupat was the first person to be charged with royal insult after the king formally ascended the throne following the death of King Bhumibol.

His full jail term will be completed on June 19.

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24 Hours Across Africa

Ten and thousands of Hong Kong protesters flood city streets in largest rally in weeks



Source: AFP- A sea of democracy activists flooded the streets of Hong Kong Sunday in a defiant show to the city’s leaders that their movement still pulls wide public support, despite mounting violence and increasingly stark warnings from Beijing.

Hundreds of thousands of protesters carrying umbrellas poured across the heart of Hong Kong island defying torrential rain and a police order not to march from a park where they had gathered earlier for a rally.

Weeks of demonstrations have plunged the financial hub into crisis, with images of masked black-clad protesters engulfed by tear gas during street battles against riot police stunning a city once renowned for its stability.

Sunday’s action, which organisers the Civil Human Rights Front said drew more than 1.7 million in the largest rally in weeks, was billed as a return to the “peaceful” origins of the leaderless protest movement.

“It’s been a long day and we’re very tired, but to see so many people out in the rain marching for Hong Kong gives strength to everyone,” said Danny Tam, a 28-year-old graphic designer.

The unprecedented political crisis was sparked by opposition to a plan to allow extraditions to the Chinese mainland.

But protests have since morphed into a wider call for democratic rights in the semi-autonomous city.

Anger has been sharpened among protesters by the perceived heavy-handedness of the police who have used tear gas, baton charges and rubber bullets in incidents that have pinballed across social media.

“The police are doing things that are totally unacceptable,” said Yim, who like many of the protesters gave only one name.

“They are hurting citizens, they aren’t protecting us.”

AFP / Manan VATSYAYANATorrential rain failed to dampen the enthusiasm of protesters in Hong Kong

Communist Party-ruled mainland China has taken an increasingly hardline tone towards the protesters, decrying the “terrorist-like” actions of a violent hardcore minority among the demonstrators.

Despite the near-nightly clashes with police, the movement has won few concessions from Beijing or the city’s unelected leadership.

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24 Hours Across Africa

Samson Siasia ban for life by Fifa



Former Nigeria coach Samson Siasia has been banned for life and fined $50,000 by Fifa for agreeing to ‘the manipulation of matches.’

Siasia was coach of Nigeria between 2010-2011 and for a spell in 2016 but the time period when Fifa believes he committed his infractions is unclear.

He has also served as coach of the country’s Under-20 and Under-23 sides.

In a statement, Siasia was found ‘guilty of having accepted that he would receive bribes in relation to the manipulation of matches.’

The sanction stems from an ongoing ‘large-scale investigation’ Fifa is conducting into the behaviour of Wilson Raj Perumal, a convicted match-fixer from Singapore.

He is the third African to be banned by Fifa for his links to Perumal after former Sierra Leone FA official Abu Bakarr Kabba and former Botswana FA official Mooketsi Kgotlele were suspended in July for five years and for life respectively.

A former international, Siasia won the 1994 Africa Cup of Nations with Nigeria, for whom he played over 50 times while scoring 16 goals.

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