Thai polls regulator heeds king, blocks princess' candidacy


The political career of Thailand's Princess Ubolratana Rajakanya Sirivadhana Barnavadi lasted only three days, but in that time her declaration that she would be a candidate for prime minister in a March election shook up the kingdom.

The Thai Raksa Chart party, affiliated with the powerful Shinawatra political clan, had announced the princess as their candidate Friday morning - a move which rattled the status quo and threatened the ambitions of the generals in power.

With its nomination of the king's sister for prime minister, the Thai Raksa Chart party sought to flip the longstanding charge by opponents that Thaksin and his allies were insufficiently loyal to the monarchy.

The general, who said Friday officially candidate for the post of Prime Minister, said that checks were ongoing on the origin of these speculations.

"All members of the royal family have to abide by the principle of being above politics and politically neutral", it said in a statement.

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

The March 24 elections are the first since a 2014 military coup toppled a pro-Thaksin government.

The candidacy of a close member of the royal family is unprecedented in Thailand since the era of absolute monarchy ended 86 years ago.

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".

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"For Thai Raksa Chart supporters, this has created more sympathy to the party".

She did not comment on her candidacy and could not be reached for comment on Monday. The commission is likely to follow the wishes of the monarch, who holds a semi-divine place in Thai society.

Members of the Phalang Pracharat party - which is aligned with the military - were jubilant following the weekend's upheaval and its party leaders took to the streets, campaigning in a 60-vehicle convoy, to tout their tradition-abiding credentials.

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.

The early protesters wore yellow - a color associated with the late King Bhumibol Adulyadej - to show their reverence for the monarchy and Thai culture that they said Thaksin threatened through corruption and consolidating his own personal power.

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

Shortly after the king's statement she posted again without addressing the issue directly, simply thanking Thais for their support and saying that she wanted Thailand to "move forward and become admired and accepted by the global community".

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

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