Thai polls regulator heeds king, blocks princess' candidacy

13 February, 2019, 13:07 | Author: Carlos George
  • Thai King Dashes Sister's Political Dreams

Thailand's political landscape was gripped by uncertainty on Monday after King Maha Vajiralongkorn intervened in his elder sister Princess Ubolratana Mahidol's bid to run for Prime Minister, leading the Election Commission to reject her candidacy.

After unusually blunt criticism from King Vajiralongkorn, the Thai Raksa Chart party had no choice but to accept his instruction that members of the royal family could not be brought into politics.

The election commission, in its statement Monday, added that members of the royal family should refrain from politics and can not "hold any political office".

The Election Commission echoed the King's royal command issued late on Friday, which said 67-year-old Ubolratana's plan to enter politics - aligned with the powerful Shinawatra clan - was against the constitution.

"Any attempt to involve a high-level member of the royal family in the political process, by whatever means, would be tantamount to breaching time-honoured royal traditions, customs and national culture".

Thai Princess Ubolratana Rajakanya poses during a news conference at the 61st Cannes Film Festival May 15, 2008.

She returned to Thailand in 2001 from the US after her divorce and has since regularly taken part in charity, social welfare and health-promoting events as well as anti-drug campaigns for youths.

But on Monday the gruff former general, who masterminded a putsch against the government of Yingluck Shinawatra, Thaksin's sister, in 2014, tried to stop it short.

Thai Raksa Chart, said it "complies with the royal command", and canceled a campaign event Saturday.

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

The general election had been viewed as a two-party contest between Mr Prayuth's royalist military government and the pro-Thaksin Thai Raksa Chart.

Her candidacy had caused great excitement, because it offered the possibility of a strong challenge to Prayuth winning his job back.

Thailand's Electoral Commission announced on Monday that the "monarchy must remain above politics".

Bangkok Post reported that the opposition was made on the grounds that the princess "is still a royal family member who is not allowed to take political positions" despite having legally relinquished her royal titles, following her marriage to Peter Jensen, a citizen of the United States, who she had met whilst studying at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).

But the decision leaves the party without a prime ministerial candidate.

The party, a second to the Thaksin political powerhouse Pheu Thai, was expected to help the Shinawatra machine secure a majority in the 350-seat lower house.

"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.

Parties loyal to Thaksin, a former telecommunications tycoon, have defeated pro-establishment parties to win every election since 2001.

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