Friday, 19 April, 2019

Party that nominated Thai princess for PM faces ban after king's rebuke

Thai King Dashes Sister's Political Dreams Thailand general election 2019: Princess's bid for PM over after king's denouncement
Deanna Wagner | 11 February, 2019, 11:27

Ubolratana Rajaka, Princess of Thailand, attends "Thailand Hub of Entertainment", a film and entertainment industry event for investors, in Hong Kong March 24, 2010.

The Thai Raksa Chart party, affiliated with the powerful Shinawatra political clan, had announced the princess as their candidate Friday morning - a move which rattled the status quo and threatened the ambitions of the generals in power.

On Saturday, Paiboon said that although the princess has relinquished her royal title by law to become a commoner decades ago, she is still a royal family member by tradition, and members of the monarchy could not be involved in politics.

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 much-anticipated election is set for March 24 and will be the first since a 2014 coup. The commission is likely to follow the wishes of the monarch, who holds a semi-divine place in Thai society.

The nomination of the king's elder sister, who has starred in soap operas and an action movie and gave up her royal titles after marrying an American, was a shocking move by forces loyal to Thaksin, who face an uphill battle in the election.

After the February 8 political quake, the future of the party, which has close ties with fugitive ex-PM Thaksin Shinawatra, was on the verge of being dissolved.

Thai Raksa Chart's Executive Chairman Chaturon Chaisaeng declined to comment on Sunday on the request to disband the party.

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Thailand's current Prime Minister, Prayuth Chan-ocha, led the 2014 coup and is now widely expected to be re-elected. He said that the princess' name could be used for election campaigning, which breaches Section 17 of the election law barring candidates and political parties from using the monarchy for that.

"We will keep moving forward in the election so that we can solve the problems for the people and country", the party said in a statement posted on Facebook.

But the Thai king torpedoed the bid in a sharply worded statement later the same day that said bringing senior royal family members into politics is against tradition, national culture and "highly inappropriate".

Parties loyal to former telecommunications tycoon Thaksin have defeated pro-establishment parties to win every election since 2001, but since 2006 each of their governments have been removed by court rulings or coups.

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

Ultra-royalists are now demanding that Thai Raksa Chart be dissolved.

Thaksin has lived in self-imposed exile in England since he was deposed.