Thai election panel disqualifies princess as PM candidate

By Panarat Thepgumpanat and Panu Wongcha-um

BANGKOK (Reuters) – Thailand’s election panel on Monday disqualified the sister of the king from working for prime minister, placing an finish to a surprising, short-lived candidacy by echoing King Maha Vajiralongkorn’s phrases that royalty needs to be “above politics”.

The Election Fee launched the official record of events’ candidates for prime minister with out the title of Princess Ubolratana Rajakanya Sirivadhana Barnavadi, 67, the king’s elder sister.

The record excluded Ubolratana “as a result of each member of the royal household comes throughout the software of the identical rule requiring the monarch to be above politics and to be politically impartial,” the panel mentioned in an announcement after a gathering.

The princess had accepted the nomination of the Thai Raksa Chart get together, a populist motion drawn from supporters of ousted ex-premier Thaksin Shinawatra, who has been on the heart of greater than a decade of turmoil in Thai politics.

The March 24 elections are the primary since a 2014 navy coup toppled a pro-Thaksin authorities. Among the many candidates for prime minister is the present junta chief Prayuth Chan-ocha, who as military chief led the coup.

The panel didn’t point out a separate petition searching for to ban Thai Raksa Chart on the grounds that it violated election legal guidelines towards utilizing the monarchy in campaigning.

Celebration leaders weren’t instantly obtainable for remark and canceled a press convention deliberate for Monday.

Ubolratana’s shock nomination broke with a practice that members of the royal household keep out of politics.

Thailand has been a constitutional monarchy since 1932, however the royal household wields nice affect and instructions the devotion of hundreds of thousands of Thais, with the king thought of to be semi-divine.

In an announcement learn on all Thai tv stations inside hours of Ubolratana’s announcement as a candidate, King Vajiralongkorn mentioned it was “inappropriate” and unconstitutional for members of the royal household to enter politics.

ON EDGE

The dramatic occasions since Friday have put Thais on edge. Riot police items had been on excessive alert in Pichit province, north of Bangkok, the place the princess was on account of go to later this week, in accordance with Matichon newspaper.

Bangkok has been locked in political battle for greater than a decade – with avenue protests typically paralyzing the capital for months at a time – between supporters of Thaksin’s populist model of politics and the mostly-middle class and concrete institution who determine with the monarchy and the navy.

Events loyal to Thaksin, a former telecommunications tycoon, have defeated pro-establishment events to win each election since 2001. Every of their governments has been eliminated by court docket rulings or coups since 2006.

The hashtag ‘#coup’ was trending on Thai-language Twitter on Monday and a faux doc additionally circulated on-line claiming that the junta had sacked commanders within the military, navy and air power.

The rumors had been false and supposed to destabilize Thailand, the spokesman for the ruling junta, Colonel Winthai Suvaree, advised reporters.

“That is organized conduct with hope to realize one thing, notably to disturb the peace of the nation throughout this vital second,” he mentioned.

The professional-Thaksin camp’s bid to appoint a member of the royal household electrified the election race, but it surely might backfire on Thai Raksa Chart, mentioned Titipol Phakdeewanich, a political science professor at Ubon Ratchathani College.

Dissolving Thai Raksa Chart might hand extra seats to military-affiliated events or different established events, in addition to a separate youth-oriented populist get together.

(Further reporting by Patpicha Tanakasempipat and Chayut Setboonsarng; Enhancing by Paul Tait and Clarence Fernandez)

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