Saturday, 23 February, 2019

King blocks Thai princess' prime minister bid; pressure mounts to dissolve party

Thai King Dashes Sister's Political Dreams Thailand general election 2019: Princess's bid for PM over after king's denouncement
Jeannette Daniel | 11 February, 2019, 13:40

The Election Commission's Monday announcement came hours after the ruling junta, led by Prime Minister Chan-Ocha, refuted online speculation of an impending coup by the current military against the generals who seized power in 2014.

Thailand's Election Commission is set to meet on Monday to decide whether to punish the party that put forward Princess Ubolratana Rajakanya Sirivadhana Barnavadi as its candidate for prime minister.

The king similarly criticized his older sister's bid, calling it "highly inappropriate", and against tradition.

A spokesman for Thai Raksa Chart said the party "graciously accepts" the King's reservations and will follow "the royal command with loyalty to the king and all members of the royal family".

"All members of the royal family must abide by the king's principle of staying above politics, maintaining political impartiality and they can not take up political office", part of the statement released to the media said. A palace statement had said such an act would "defy the nation's culture".

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". It contains provisions endorsing the special status of the royal institution in line with the constitutional monarchy rule.

The vote will be the first since Yingluck was ousted in a March 2014 military coup.

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The gambit of nominating a member of the royal family could backfire on Thai Raksa Chart, said Titipol Phakdeewanich, dean of the faculty of political science at Ubon Ratchathani University.

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

Coalition sources say they believed they had the king's acquiescence for his sister to run in the election.

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

'By taking it for granted that Ubolratana had get Vajiralongkorn on board, and that nobody would dare block her standing for prime minister, Thaksin made a disastrous mistake'. She said she would work with all sincerity and determination for the prosperity of all Thais.

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".

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.

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