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Posted at: Feb 11, 2019, 11:53 AM; last updated: Feb 11, 2019, 2:38 PM (IST)

Thai election panel disqualifies Princess Ubolratana as PM candidate

Thai election panel disqualifies Princess Ubolratana as PM candidate
File photo of Princess Ubolratana Rajakanya Sirivadhana Barnavadi. AFP

Bangkok, February 11

Thailand’s Election Commission on Monday disqualified the sister of the King from running for Prime Minister on Monday, ending a stunning, short-lived candidacy for a populist party after King Maha Vajiralongkorn called the bid “inappropriate”.

The commission released the official list of parties’ candidates for Prime Minister without the name of Princess Ubolratana, 67, the older sister of the King.

Members of the royal family should be “above politics” and therefore cannot “hold any political office,” the commission said in a statement, echoing the wording of a public statement from the King on Friday.

Thailand has been a constitutional monarchy since 1932, but the royal family wields great influence and commands the devotion of millions of Thais.

Ubolratana’s shock nomination last week by the Thai Raksa Chart party, which is made up of supporters of ousted ex-premier Thaksin Shinawatra, broke with a longstanding tradition of members of the royal family staying above politics.

She gave up her royal titles after marrying an American in the 1970s and has starred in soap operas and an action movie.

However, King Vajiralongkorn said in a statement read out on all Thai television stations within hours of her candidacy being announced that it was “inappropriate” for members of the royal family to enter politics.

The dramatic events of the past three days have put Thais on edge. Riot police units were on high alert in Pichit province, north of Bangkok, where the Princess was due to visit later this week, according to Matichon newspaper.

The hashtag #coup was trending on Thai-language Twitter on Monday and a document also circulated online claiming that the junta had sacked commanders in the army, navy and air force.

The government’s assistant spokeswoman, Colonel Taksada Sangkhachan, said the document was fake and the government had filed a report with police.

The March 24 election will be the first since a military coup in 2014. Reuters

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