Thai election panel disqualifies Princess Ubolratana as PM candidate

Livening things up Nomination of Princess Ubolratana as prime ministerial candidate has transformed what could have been a dull campaign

Livening things up Nomination of Princess Ubolratana as prime ministerial candidate has transformed what could have been a dull campaign

The party that nominated a Thai princess to run for prime minister has said it will comply with the king's wishes after he opposed the move.

Her announcement drew a swift rebuke from King Maha Vajiralongkorn, her younger brother, who issued a statement saying it was "inappropriate" for members of the royal family to enter politics.

In a shock announcement on Friday, Princess Ubolratana Rajakanya, 67, said she would stand as the prime ministerial candidate for the Thai Raksa Chart Party (Thai Save The Nation, or TSN) aligned with populist former leader Thaksin Shinawatra, who was ousted by the military in a 2006 coup.

Thai Raksa Chart is allied to divisive ex-prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, a billionaire who was ousted from office by the army in 2006.

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the king's flamboyant older sister Ubolratana run for prime minister, although her nomination can not be legally withdrawn.

Thailand has been a constitutional monarchy since 1932, but the royal family wields great influence and commands the devotion of millions of Thais, with the king considered to be semi-divine.

Thailand's revered royal family have a long tradition of staying out of politics and her campaign would have threatened the ruling royalist military government who seized power in a 2014 coup.

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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".

"I would like to say once again that I want to see Thailand moving forward, being admirable and acceptable by global countries, want to see all Thais have rights, a chance, good living, happiness to all", she said, ending her post with an "#ILoveYou" hashtag.

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

The nomination of the king's elder sister, who has starred in soap operas and an action movie and gave up her royal titles after marrying an American, was a shocking move by forces loyal to Thaksin, who face an uphill battle in the election.

Srisuwan said his complaint to the Election Commission would ask it to recommend that a Constitutional Court dissolve the party. Prayuth was the Thai army chief in 2014 and led the coup that overthrew a government led by Thaksin's sister.

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.

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

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