Thailand party accepts king's opposition to Princess Ubolratana PM bid

Princess Ubolratana to contest Thailand elections as PM candidate

Princess Ubolratana to contest Thailand elections as PM candidate

King Rama X made a televised address about his sister on Friday saying, "Involvement of a high-ranking member of the Royal Family in politics, in whatever way, is an act that conflicts with the country's traditions, customs and culture and therefore is considered extremely inappropriate".

The statement was issued by the royal palace and later read on air by a television announcer.

Soon after the princess's nomination, Thai Prime Minister and junta leader Prayut Chan-o-cha announced that he accepted the pro-junta Phalang Pracharat Party's nomination as its prime ministerial candidate.

Thai Raksa Chart is an off-shoot of the main pro-Thaksin Pheu Thai party, whose government, led by Thaksin's sister Yingluck Shinawatra, was ousted from power in 2014 in a coup led by then-army chief Prayuth.

Princess Ubolratana's position within the Thai Royal Family doesn't preclude her from running for a political position, although to defy The King's wishes, after his strongly worded statement on Friday night, would place the country in an unprecedented constitutional conundrum.

The king's word is rarely ignored in Thailand. Though Ubolratana does not have any royal titles and is not covered under lese majeste laws as of now - she relinquished her royal status back in 1972 - it is hard to imagine that her status would not affect how polls would be conducted.

One of her chief opponents in the March 24 election will be Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha, the leader of the ruling military junta, who also announced his candidacy on Friday. Aligning with a top royal could've potentially cleared the way for his return to Thailand, where he faces jail time for a conviction in a corruption case he has called politically motivated. "In the event Thaksin-aligned parties win the election, it makes it very hard for the military and royalists to contest, protest, or seek to overturn the result".

2018: Pictures appear on social media of Ubolratana, Thaksin and his sister, former prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra, at the World Cup in Russian Federation.

The surprise nomination sent shock waves through the country's political landscape as a crowded field of candidates prepared to run for the same post.

"All royal family members adhere to the same principles ... and can not take any political office, because it contradicts the intention of the constitution", he added.

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The party that nominated a Thai princess to run for prime minister has said it will comply with the king's statement opposing the move.

Ubolratana was not present when her name was registered with the Election Commission by the Thai Raksa Chart Party.

Ubolratana, a colourful, public-facing royal in contrast to her more restrained brother King Maha Vajiralongkorn, relinquished her royal titles after marrying an American decades ago. Violent street protests and two military coups have marked the years since.

Later that day, reigning King Maha Vajiralongkorn, 66, condemned the bid as unconstitutional and "inappropriate".

She said she wanted to exercise her rights as an ordinary citizen by offering her candidacy for prime minister.

Ubolratana, a mathematics and biochemistry graduate from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, has a reputation for being more accessible to commoners than the rest of the royal family.

For the princess, coming out on the side of the Shinawatras will further complicate Thailand's troubled politics, said Pavin Chachavalpongpun, associate professor at the Center for Southeast Asian Studies at Kyoto University. Prayuth on Friday said he'll also contest the poll as the prime ministerial candidate for the Palang Pracharath Party.

"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", she said, concluding with "#ILoveYou".

Thailand has among the world's toughest lese-majeste laws, which make it illegal to defame, insult or threaten the king, queen, heir apparent or regent.

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