Published: Mon, February 11, 2019
Worldwide | By Isabel Fisher

Thai King Dashes Sister's Political Dreams

Thai King Dashes Sister's Political Dreams

Thailand's Election Commission is to meet today to consider the candidacy of Princess Ubolratana Rajakanya Sirivadhana Barnavadi, 67, who stunned the nation last Friday when she said she would be the prime ministerial candidate for a populist party loyal to the ousted Thaksin Shinawatra.

Upon Princess Ubolratana's permanent return to Thailand after her divorce in 1998, she was "bestowed the title "Tunkramom Ying" (Daughter to the Queen Regent) title", and has since been "treated by officials as a member of the royal family".

The Thai Raksa Chart party - Princess Ubolratana's nominating party - has said that it "graciously accepts" the royal announcement and "would abide by election regulations and royal tradition".

On Sunday, an activist said he would file a petition to disqualify the Thai Raksa Chart party.

In a country where the monarch's word is final, King Maha Vajiralongkorn dismissed proposals to draft a senior royal into politics as "most inappropriate" and breaching the constitution.

Opponents of the Shinawatra political clan campaigned triumphantly in the Thai capital on Sunday, after a weekend of high political drama when a Thai princess' bid to be premier provoked a rare royal rebuke.

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having the king's flamboyant older sister Ubolratana run for prime minister, although her nomination can not be legally withdrawn.

Thai Raksa Chart's executive chairman Chaturon Chaisaeng declined to comment on the request to disband it.

Electoral law forbids parties from using the monarchy in campaigns.

"The EC must therefore take steps to dissolve the party", Paiboon said, citing Section 92 of the 2018 Political Party Act's stipulation on dissolution of the party when it has obtained credible evidence that it has committed an act deemed hostile to constitutional monarchy rule.

Thai Raksa Chart is one of several pro-Thaksin parties contesting the election.

Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha, who also announced his candidacy the same day as Princess Ubolratana did, will be running for the post as a representative for a new pro-military party established by his loyalists. Prayuth was the Thai army chief in 2014 and led the coup that ousted a government led by Thaksin's sister.

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.

The king called his sister's candidacy "inappropriate.and unconstitutional" saying members of the royal family should not run for office.

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

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