Party That Nominated Thai Princess For PM Faces Ban After King's Rebuke

Nastya Rybka

Bloomberg observed that "the move by King Maha Vajiralongkorn's sister shocked a nation where top royals are officially treated with semi-divine status and protected by strict lèse-majesté laws that shield them from criticism".

The Thailand princess' party faces pressure to dissolve even though it has obeyed the king's command to withdraw her nomination as prime ministerial candidate.

Princess Ubolratana Rajakanya's bid for prime minister in next month's general election unravelled, when her brother King Maha Vajiralongkorn issued a rare royal command opposing the move.

Srisuwan pointed out on Sunday that Thai Raksa Chart, which is linked to fugitive former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, had nominated someone who is not qualified to become a PM candidate and that this went against the electoral law and EC regulations regarding election campaigning. "If I were an executive member, I would take responsibility by resigning from either the executive position or party membership", he said.

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.

"Involvement of a high ranking member of the royal family in politics, in whatever way, is an act that conflicts with the country's traditions, customs, and culture, and therefore is considered extremely inappropriate".

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.

That ends a bold gambit by the anti-military coalition to boost its popularity and insulate itself against charges of being anti-monarchy, by having the king's flamboyant older sister Ubolratana run for prime minister, although her nomination can not be legally withdrawn. "We ask that the case be referred to the Constitutional Court for a verdict on whether Thai Raksa Chart should be dissolved", Srisuwan said. That would leave the largest party in the coalition, which is aligned with Mr Shinawatra, still contesting the election, but without an important partner.

In an Instagram post this weekend she thanked Thais who had supported her but did not address the King's comments.

Hours earlier, Princess Ubolratana defended her decision to run for office.

But the decision leaves the party without a prime ministerial candidate. She said she would work with all sincerity and determination for the prosperity of all Thais.

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

He responded to the events on Twitter late on Saturday telling supporters to "keep moving forward" and "learn from past experiences but live for today and the future".

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