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Princess Ubolratana disqualified from list of candidates for PM

Princess Ubolratana disqualified from list of candidates for PM

"The provisions also cover the queen, heir-apparent and royal family members close to the king", stressed the royal statement, adding that they "may not hold any political position, as it is against the intention of the constitutions and constitutional monarchy tradition".

Princess Ubolratana Mahidol's declaration to run for prime minister in the populist party, Thai Raksa Chart, for the March elections, at age 67, could have shaken up a military junta that has ruled the country since a 2014 coup.

The Thai royal family, a revered institution shielded from criticism by a tough defamation law, has traditionally been seen as above the political fray, although royals have intervened in moments of political crisis.

The princess had accepted the nomination of the Thai Raksa Chart party, a populist movement drawn from supporters of ousted ex-premier Thaksin Shinawatra, who has been at the centre of almost 15 years of turmoil in Thai politics.

Broadcast on all Thai TV networks, the statement said: "Even though she has relinquished her royal titles in writing, she maintained her status and carried herself as a member of the Chakri dynasty".

Thailand's royally appointed Election Commission on Monday formally blocked Princess Ubolratana Rajakanya's prime ministerial bid, days after her brother King Maha Vajiralongkorn issued a rare order denouncing his sister's unprecedented foray into politics.

Before the withdrawal, Paiboon sent a letter to the Election Commission to request suspension of her nomination. It is unlikely its members would disregard the wishes of the king, who while a constitutional monarch, is considered semi-divine in Thai society.

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She returned to Thailand in the late 1990s after getting a divorce. The military government's leader, Prayuth Chan-ocha, is also contesting the race for prime minister as the candidate of a pro-army party.

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. Prayuth was the Thai army chief in 2014 and led the coup that ousted a government led by Thaksin's sister.

'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.

Thaksin, himself removed in a coup in 2006, lives in self-imposed exile after being convicted by a Thai court of corruption in absentia.

The gambit to nominate a member of the royal family could backfire on Thai Raksa Chart, said Titipol Phakdeewanich, dean of the faculty of political science at Ubon Ratchathani University.

If the party is dissolved, it could give more seats to anti-Thaksin affiliated parties like the pro-junta, Phalang Pracharat and progressive Future Forward party, he said.

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