News ID: 238831
Published: 0413 GMT February 13, 2019

Thai election commission moves to dissolve party linked to princess

Thai election commission moves to dissolve party linked to princess
Thailand's Princess Ubolratana Rajakanya

Thailand's election commission on Wednesday asked the constitutional court to dissolve a party that proposed a princess as candidate for prime minister, a potentially serious blow to the political aspirations of the kingdom's powerful Shinawatra clan.

Junta-ruled Thailand has sunk into political chaos since Friday, when Princess Ubolratana's name was submitted by Thai Raksa Chart, a party allied with the divisive billionaire ex-premier Thaksin Shinawatra, AFP reported.

Her unprecedented bid to enter frontline politics unraveled within hours after King Maha Vajiralongkorn, the 67-year-old Ubolratana's younger brother, decried the entry of a royal into the political fray as "highly inappropriate".

Thailand's powerful and vastly wealthy monarchy is seen as above politics, although royals have intervened before during times of political crisis.

Election Commission of Thailand brought a premature end to the princess's political career by disqualifying her as a candidate for premier.

On Wednesday, the commission filed a request with the constitutional court to disband Thai Raksa Chart for breaching the political parties law by bringing a royal family member into politics.

"That action is considered hostile to the constitutional monarchy," it said.

It was not immediately clear if the court could rule on Thai Raksa Chart's dissolution before the March 24 election.

If dissolved, the party's executives – including Shinawatra family members – could face a long political ban, while its candidates would be unable to run in the poll.

The party said it will contest the move.

"Our party will go ahead (with campaigning) we are the hope of ... our people," party leader Preechaphol Pongpanit said, adding that they were "stunned" by how swiftly events had unfolded over the past few days.

Parties affiliated with Thaksin have won every election since 2001, but their governments have been battered by two coups and a barrage of court cases driven through by an arch-royalist Bangkok-based elite.

Thaksin and his sister Yingluck both live abroad to avoid convictions they say are politically motivated.

The monarchy in Thailand is considered sacred and revered by its people, and is under the protection of draconian lese majeste laws. The king's word is considered final.



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