Thailand disqualifies king's sister from running for election

11 February, 2019, 13:38 | Author: Sheila Harris
  • Thai King Dashes Sister's Political Dreams

Thailand's Election Commission on Monday disqualified the sister of the king from running for prime minister on Monday, ending a stunning, short-lived candidacy for a populist party after King Maha Vajiralongkorn called the bid "inappropriate".

"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.

The candidacy of a close member of the royal family is unprecedented in Thailand since the era of absolute monarchy ended 86 years ago.

Ubolratana was stripped of her royal title when she married a U.S. national in 1972.

The Thai Raksa Chart party had announced Friday that Princess Ubolratana, who is 67, would be the party's prime minister nominee for the March 24 election.

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".

In an Instagram post Saturday, the princess, without mentioning her brother or her dashed political plans, thanked her supporters for their "love and kindness" and expressed a desire to see the country expand rights and opportunities for citizens.

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Shortly after the king's statement she posted again without addressing the issue directly, simply thanking Thais for their support and saying that she wanted Thailand to "move forward and become admired and accepted by the worldwide community".

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 nomination of the king's older sister, who has starred in soap operas and an action movie was a shocking move.

The junta leader, Prayuth Chan-ocha, is also contesting the race for prime minister as the candidate of a pro-military party.

The Thai Raksa Party is aligned with the country's exiled former leader, Thaksin Shinawatra. 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. Prayuth was the Thai army chief in 2014 and led the coup that ousted a government led by Thaksin's sister.

However, in a statement read on all Thai television stations within hours of her announcement as a candidate, King Vajiralongkorn said it was "inappropriate" and unconstitutional for members of the royal family to enter politics.

If the party is dissolved, it could give more seats to anti-Thaksin affiliated parties like the pro-junta, Phalang Pracharat and progressive Future Forward party, he said.

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