Thailand's King Bhumibol Adulyadej, a revered and unifying figure who embodied the nation in his 70-year reign, has died aged 88.
The announcement came in a statement from the Royal Palace read on state TV Thursday, and followed a days-long outpouring of support since the king was hospitalized. He underwent medical procedures over the weekend.
The king died at 3:52 p.m. local time and passed away in a "peaceful manner," the Royal Palace said.
King Bhumibol ascended to the throne 70 years ago on May 5, 1950, making him the world's longest-reigning living monarch, before his death.
The nation has experienced its greatest sorrow in a lifetime on Oct 13 and will have a new king under its traditions, Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha announced on Thursday evening.
Gen Prayut asked people to pray for the peaceful spirit of His Majesty the King in heaven, follow His Majesty's guidelines and join hands to sustain national prosperity and happiness as His Majesty wished.
He also asked people to wear mourning clothes for a year. He said government offices will fly their flags at half-mast and that people should refrain from entertainment activities for 30 days.
"Thai people. His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej, King Rama IX, has passed away. Long live the new king," the prime minister said in concluding his speech.
According to Section 23 of the 2007 constitution, when the throne becomes vacant and the king has already appointed his Heir under the 1924 Palace Law on Succession, the cabinet shall notify the Parliament president, who will convene members for acknowledgement.
The parliament president will then invite the Heir to ascend the throne and proclaim him King, according to the provision.
Since there is no Senate or House of Representatives at the moment, the 250-member National Legislative Assembly will act as parliament.
His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej appointed His Royal Highness Prince Vajiralongkorn as the Heir to the Throne on Dec 28, 1972 after which he became His Royal Highness Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn.
Although the 2007 charter was scrapped by the 2014 coup, the 2014 interim charter uses its chapter on the King as a reference.
Source: CNN, Bangkok Post