Party of Thai princess faces ban after king's condemnation

Party of Thai princess faces ban after king's condemnation

Thailand's Election Commission omitted the name of Princess Ubolratana from a list of approved prime ministerial candidates in advance of a general election to be held at the end of next month.

The Thai Raksa Chart Party last Friday registered Princess Ubolratana Mahidol as its candidate, defying precedent against royal involvement in politics.

The political hopes of the princess were dashed nearly immediately when her younger brother, the king, issued a terse statement saying his sister's candidacy was "highly inappropriate" and went against tradition and national culture.

Thai Raksa Chart Party leader Preechapol Pongpanich shows a document nominating Princess Ubolratana Mahidol as candidate for prime minister.

But the king issued a statement which said: 'To bring a senior royal family member into the political system in any way is against royal traditions and the nation's culture. which is very inappropriate'.

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".

She returned to Thailand in 2001 from the US after her divorce and has since regularly taken part in charity, social welfare and health-promoting events as well as anti-drug campaigns for youths.

The vote will be the first since Yingluck was ousted in a March 2014 military coup.

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In a statement broadcast across Thai television networks, King Vajiralongkorn, 66, 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".

By Monday (Feb 11), the country's Election Commission had disqualified the princess, 67, from taking part in the election, echoing the words of the king himself, who said on Friday her candidacy was "inappropriate".

The commission's list did include Thailand's current prime minister and junta leader Prayuth Chan-ocha, running under the banner of the pro-military Palang Pracharat Party which is widely expected to win.

Thailand's monarchy is deeply revered in society, and has been seen as a unifying force above the divisions in the country.

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.

Thai Raksa Chart's executive chairman Chaturon Chaisaeng declined to comment on the request to disband it.

Dissolving Thai Raksa Chart could hand more seats to military-affiliated parties or other established parties, as well as a separate youth-oriented populist party.

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