Thailand in turmoil as king denounces sister's bid for power

Thailand in turmoil as king denounces sister's bid for power

Most but not all modern monarchies steer clear of direct involvement in electoral politics or governing.

Thailand also has a draconian lese majeste law that punishes defamation of the immediate royal family with up to 15 years in prison. Though Ubolratana does not have any royal titles and is not covered under lese majeste laws as of now - she relinquished her royal status back in 1972 - it is hard to imagine that her status would not affect how polls would be conducted.

Allen Hicken is a political scientist at the University of MI who specializes in Southeast Asian studies.

"I've been bored with politics for so long, but the princess has made me happy about the election again", one fan wrote on a web forum.

Thai Raksa Chart party leader Preechapol Pongpanich said: "The party has nominated the princess as its sole candidate".

Soon after Friday's announcement, her catchphrase #SongPhraSlender (Long Live Slender) was number one on Twitter in Thailand. Ubolratana to some extent was living the typical American life, calling herself Mrs. Julie Jensen, having adopted the nickname Julie during her youth, reportedly in tribute to American singer Julie London.

On her Instagram account, Ms Ubolratana recently posted videos of her enjoying street food and complaining about Bangkok's pollution.

"This act of mine, I have done out of sincerity and intention to sacrifice in this request to lead the country to prosperity", she said.

Palace officials could not be reached for comment.

King Vajiralongkorn also cited a provision in the constitution that states the monarch stays above politics and maintains political neutrality.

Parliament has had members who were distant relatives of the monarch. She's on Instagram, where she often posts photos of her lifestyle along with un-royal casual comments for her nearly 100,000 followers.

Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha is loyal to the junta.

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2003: Ubolratana starred as a princess in a soap opera set in the Ayutthaya period, "Kasattriya".

"I have accepted the Thai Raksa Chart Party nomination for prime minister to show my rights and freedom without any privileges above other fellow Thai citizens under the constitution", she said. Now you can't follow her unless you were following her prior to that change.

Ubolratana, 67, is the first born of four children of the late King Bhumibol Adulyadej and Queen Sirikit, with the current king the second born.

They divorced in 1998 and she continued to reside in the United States with her three children until they returned to Thailand in 2001. She also frequently promotes Thai tourism and movies at worldwide forums. The princess lived in the US for years, but after the couple divorced in 1998, she then moved to Thailand, where she is still referred to as a princess and a member of the royal family.

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

The conflict between the Bangkok-centered, royalist elites and Thaksin and his more rural-based supporters has resulted in street protests, military coups, and violent clashes over nearly 15 years. His sister fled in 2017, also to avoid jail in a case she said was politically motivated.

The entry of Princess Ubolratana (pronounced "Oo-bon-rart-tar-NA") into the political fray throws the old battles into a new battlefield and political commentators and analysts are going back to the drawing board to figure out how this new dynamic will affect the election. In terms of the outcome, while Prayut was seen as being the likely victor by far in upcoming polls, the most likely scenario now is a unity, royal-led government with Ubolratana at the helm, with Thaksin's influence at play and some role for Prayut-linked forces as well.

"I don't think that Khun (Mr.) Thaksin will be involved about this", he said.

When King Maha Vajiralongkorn ascended to the throne, conventional wisdom saw him as tightening his grip on power by allying himself closely with the military.

On Friday, King Maha criticized his sister's action.

"If this does not turn out well, it will pose alarming risk and even greater risk for Thailand's political future".

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