Thai Protests on Pause for King’s Birthday

Protests are expected to pick up Friday.

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Dylan Martinez / Reuters

Anti-government protesters hold candles as they take part in birthday celebrations for Thailand's revered King Bhumibol Adulyadej, at the occupied Government buildings in Bangkok, Dec. 5, 2013.

The upheaval in Thailand was temporarily suspended Thursday as the country marked its revered 86-year-old king’s birthday, but anti-government protesters have vowed to pick up where they left off.

King Bhumibol Adulyadej gave a customary birthday address from his palace in the coastal palace in Hua Hin that invoked public duty — but did not directly address the ongoing standoff between the ruling government and the opposition that intensified last month, Reuters reports.

Protesters with the Democratic Party, which draws support from the urban middle class and establishment elite, have surrounded and stormed government buildings with a proclaimed aim of toppling the current regime, which the opposition says is corrupt and a puppet for exiled former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra. Clashes this week left five people dead.

The King, the world’s longest-reigning monarch, plays a primarily ceremonial role but holds significant sway in the country. Thousands headed to Hua Hin to chance a glimpse of him on his birthday.