World Media

Thai polls regulator heeds king, blocks princess' candidacy

Share
Nastya Rybka

Officials have disqualified a Thai princess from running for prime minister in next month's general election after her brother, King Maha Vajiralongkorn, said her nomination would be "inappropriate".

'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 election is the first since a 2014 military coup, and will pit allies of ousted ex-Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra against urban and middle class opponents espousing extreme devotion to the Thai monarchy.

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.

Ubolratana was stripped of her royal title when she married a United States national in 1972.

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.

Parties loyal to former telecommunications tycoon Thaksin have defeated pro-establishment parties to win every election since 2001 but, since 2006, each of their governments has been removed by court rulings or coups.

The early protesters wore yellow - a colour 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.

The party said it would accept the king's message and "move forward into the election arena to solve problems for the country".

She said: "I would like to say once again that I want to see Thailand moving forward, being admirable and acceptable by worldwide countries, want to see all Thais have rights, a chance, good living, happiness to all". Among the candidates for prime minister is the current junta leader Prayuth Chan-ocha, who as army chief led the coup. She did not comment on her candidacy and could not be reached for comment on Monday.

The panel did not mention a separate petition seeking to ban Thai Raksa Chart on the grounds that it violated election laws against using the monarchy in campaigning. The party was set up as an alternative to Thaksin's Pheu Thai Party, in case it were to be dissolved by election authorities ahead of the vote.

Thaksin, who has been in exile to avoid a jail sentence on a conflict of interest conviction, is believed by many to have played a role in establishing Ubolratana's candidacy.

The general election had been viewed as a two-party contest between Mr Prayuth's royalist military government and the pro-Thaksin Thai Raksa Chart.

Share