Friday, 19 April, 2019


Thai election panel disqualifies princess as PM candidate

Thai election panel disqualifies princess as PM candidate Thai election panel disqualifies princess as PM candidate
Bennie Garza | 12 February, 2019, 12:29

Conjecture has coursed through Thailand since Friday when the Thai Raksa Chart party proposed Princess Ubolratana, King Maha Vajiralongkorn's elder sister, as a candidate for premier after the March 24 election.

The commissioners voted to shoot down the nomination just three days after His Majesty the King barred Princess Ubolratana Mahidol, 68, from the race for the top government job on the grounds that royal family members can not get involved in politics.

"The provisions also cover the queen, heir-apparent and royal family members close to the king", stressed the royal statement, adding that they "may not hold any political position, as it is against the intention of the constitutions and constitutional monarchy tradition".

Thai Raksa Chart is a pro-Thaksin Shinawatra party, and Princess Ubolratana is known to be a long-time friend of the Shinawatra family, which has an influence in the upcoming election through its proxy political parties, although they have not fielded a family member directly this time.

The March 24 election is the first since a military coup in 2014 toppled an elected pro-Thaksin government.

The candidacy of a close member of the royal family is unprecedented in Thailand since the era of absolute monarchy ended 86 years ago.

The 67-year-old princess returned to Thailand in 1998 after divorcing her husband and quickly resumed royal duties but was not given her titles back.

The slapdown by an unassailable monarch - protected by some of the world's harshest royal defamation laws - who has never addressed the public in such strong terms, set off a chain reaction.

She said: "I would like to say once again that I want to see Thailand moving forward, being admirable and acceptable by worldwide countries, want to see all Thais have rights, a chance, good living, happiness to all".

Prayuth was the Thai army chief in 2014 and led the coup that ousted a government led by Thaksin's sister.

"I think the party leader and board should take a responsibility by resigning", said Srisuwan Janya of the Association for the Protection of the Constitution, a royalist activist group, who submitted a petition to election authorities Monday calling for the party's censure.

Thailand's junta chief on Monday dismissed rumours of an impending coup as "fake news", as speculation ricocheted across a kingdom unsettled by the ill-fated political union between a princess and a party allied to the powerful Shinawatra clan.

The Election Commission will meet on Monday morning and is expected to discuss the future of Thai Raksa Chart, following the strong condemnation from the king.

The fate of the Thai Raksa Chart remained uncertain.

"Things are now more unpredictable", Titipol told Reuters.

If the party is dissolved, it could give more seats to anti-Thaksin affiliated parties, he said, although there are other parties loyal to the ex-premier contesting the election.

Thaksin, who was ousted in a 2006 coup, lives in self-imposed exile after being convicted of corruption in absentia.

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