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Obituaries

Thai media report death of ex-PM Prem Tinsulanonda

Thailand's former Prime Minister Prem Tinsulanonda   © Reuters

BANGKOK (AP) -- Prem Tinsulanonda (tee-NAH'-soo-lah-nohn), one of Thailand's most influential political figures over four decades who served as army commander, prime minister and adviser to the royal palace, has died at age 98.

Thai media reported he died Sunday morning in a Bangkok hospital, and an official announcement is expected.

Prem was best noted for his devotion to the monarchy, especially the late King Bhumibol Adulyadej, who appointed him head of his Privy Council in 1998. His close relationship with Bhumibol helped cement the military's ties with the palace, ensuring they were the country's two most powerful institutions.

Prem served as prime minister from 1980 to 1988.

Critics questioned his devotion to democracy, and accused him of encouraging the 2006 coup that ousted elected Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra.

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