Thai election body seeks dissolution of party that nominated princess for PM

Remigio Civitarese
Febbraio 14, 2019

Ubolratana Rajaka, Princess of Thailand, attends "Thailand Hub of Entertainment", a film and entertainment industry event for investors, in Hong Kong March 24, 2010.

Ubolratana's unprecedented bid to enter frontline politics unravelled within hours after King Maha Vajiralongkorn decried the entry of a royal into the political fray as "highly inappropriate".

The announcement caused a sensation in a country where the royal family has traditionally remained above politics. Lawyers for the party said they will present their case before the constitution court, asking "for their mercy and justice".

The monarchy in Thailand is considered sacred and revered by its people, and is under the protection of draconian lese majeste laws.

The scuttling of her candidacy and potential moves to dissolve the Thai Raksa Chart party is a blow to the political machine of former premier Thaksin Shinawatra.

Princess Ubolratana was disqualified by the country's Election Commission on Monday.

The royal family and electoral officials condemned her candidacy nearly immediately after it was announced.

The election is significant because it is the first since a successful coup against Yingluck Shinawatra's government in 2014.

Princess Ubolratana Rajakanya Sirivadhana Barnavadi's comments late on Tuesday came a day after the commission dropped her name from an official list of candidates for prime minister.

"I feel sorry that my honest intention to work for the country and Thai people created problems that shouldn't happen in this era", she said.

It was followed by the hashtag, in English, #howcomeitsthewayitis.

In a statement, the King said: "Even though she has relinquished her royal titles in writing, she maintained her status and carried herself as a member of the Chakri dynasty".

Thai Raksa Chart Party leader Preechapol Pongpanich makes a high wai as he assures the media his party accepts the royal command on the nomination of its candidate for prime minister and is loyal to His Majesty the King and all members of the royal family. After her divorce, she moved back to Thailand where she is regarded by the Thai public as a part of the royal family.

The political turbulence in Thailand has continued to escalate in the build-up to the election, with a political party likely to be forcibly dissolved, the military suspending a critical TV station and the king's sister apologising after she was disqualified from running for prime minister. Analysts say the blocking of the princess' candidacy could benefit Mr Prayut, who has portrayed himself as a defender of the monarchy.

If the court agreed with an EC decision to disband Thai Raksa Chart, its 13 executives would be barred from politics - voting and running for elections - either for 10 years or for life.

Meanwhile another organisation affiliated with the Shinawatras was in the crosshairs on Tuesday. The National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission said two news programs on the station spread information that caused public confusion and divisiveness.

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