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Thai election panel disqualifies Princess Ubolratana as PM candidate

11 February 2019

Thailand's election panel on Monday disqualified the sister of the king from running for prime minister, putting an end to a stunning, short-lived candidacy by echoing King Maha Vajiralongkorn's words that royalty should be "above politics".

Bangkok has been locked in political conflict for more than a decade - with street protests sometimes paralyzing the capital for months at a time - between supporters of Thaksin's populist brand of politics and the mostly-middle class and urban establishment who identify with the monarchy and the military.

Still, Paiboon Nititawan, the pro-military People Reform Party leader, has called on the Election Commission to meet Monday to consider dissolving the Thai Raksa Party for nominating the princess despite withdrawing her nomination.

Thai law stipulates that once a name is submitted, it can not be withdrawn - though the Electoral Commission has the power to decide the legitimacy of candidates.

The 67-year-old princess's shock announcement on Friday drew an nearly immediate rebuke from her younger brother, King Maha Vajiralongkorn.

She gave up her royal titles after marrying an American and she has starred in soap operas and an action movie.

Members of the royal family should be "above politics" and therefore can not "hold any political office", the commission said in a statement, echoing the wording of a public statement from the king on Friday.

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Thai Raksa Chart's Executive Chairman Chaturon Chaisaeng declined to comment on Sunday on the request to disband the party.

'The board agrees that the name of Princess Ubolratana, an educated and skilled person, is the most suitable choice, ' Thai Raksa Chart party leader Preechapol Pongpanich told reporters. The party said it would accept the king's message and "move forward into the election arena to solve problems for the country".

Srisuwan said his complaint to the Election Commission would ask it to recommend that a Constitutional Court dissolve the party.

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.

Thailand's current Prime Minister, Prayuth Chan-ocha, led the 2014 coup and is now widely expected to be re-elected.

On Saturday, the Thai Raksa Chart party swore loyalty to the king, saying in a statement that it "complies with the royal command".

Thaksin, himself removed in a coup in 2006, lives in self-imposed exile after being convicted by a Thai court of corruption in absentia. The takeover resulted in the installation of a junta intent on eradicating the influence of former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, whose allies have won every national election since 2001.

Thai election panel disqualifies Princess Ubolratana as PM candidate