Thai party to comply with royal order against princess PM candidacy: statement

Evarado Alatorre
Febrero 11, 2019

The commission will also consider a complaint seeking to ban the populist party that stunned the nation by nominating Princess Ubolratana Rajakanya Sirivadhana Barnavadi, 67, for the role.

Also know as Ubol Ratana, the princess renounced her royal titles when she married a USA citizen in 1972, but was given them back after her divorce and return to Thailand in the late 1990s.

The Election Commission has until Friday to rule on her candidacy.

Yesterday, an activist said he would file a petition to disqualify the Thai Raksa Chart party, which nominated the princess.

The election will be the first vote since current Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha took power in 2014, overthrowing the democratic government and ousting former prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra, the younger sister of Mr Thaksin.

A day after the party's swift response saying it "complies with the royal command" to retract the princess' candidacy, Thai Raksa Chart issued a statement Sunday saying their party policies remain unchanged.

"The provisions also cover the queen, heir-apparent and royal family members close to the king", stressed the royal statement, adding that they "may not hold any political position, as it is against the intention of the constitutions and constitutional monarchy tradition".

After the February 8 political natural disaster, the future of the party, which has close ties with fugitive ex-PM Thaksin Shinawatra, was on the verge of being dissolved.

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the king's flamboyant older sister Ubolratana run for prime minister, although her nomination can not be legally withdrawn.

Thai Raksa Chart's Executive Chairman Chaturon Chaisaeng declined to comment on Sunday on the request to disband the party. The party said it would accept the king's message and "move forward into the election arena to solve problems for the country".

"Involvement of a high ranking member of the royal family in politics, in whatever way, is an act that conflicts with the country's traditions, customs, and culture, and therefore is considered extremely inappropriate". 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.

"Things are now more unpredictable", Titipol told Reuters.

The Election Commission will meet on Monday morning and is expected to discuss the future of Thai Raksa Chart, following the strong condemnation from the king.

If the party is dissolved, it could give more seats to anti-Thaksin affiliated parties, he said, although there are other parties loyal to the ex-premier contesting the election.

Thaksin, himself ousted in a coup in 2006, lives in self-imposed exile after being convicted by a Thai court of corruption in absentia.

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