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

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The party that nominated a Thai princess to run for PM has said it will comply with the king’s wishes after he opposed the move.

The Thai Raksa Chart party is allied to divisive former PM Thaksin Shinawatra.

On Friday Thai King Vajiralongkorn denounced as inappropriate his sister Princess Ubolratana Mahidol’s unprecedented bid for political power.

The candidacy would have broken with the tradition of the Thai royal family publicly staying out of politics.

The party said it “complies with the royal command with loyalty to the king and all members of the royal family”.

It came in response to a palace statement which said such an act would “defy the nation’s culture”.

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.

“Involvement of a high-ranking member of the royal family in politics, in whatever way, is considered an act that defies the nation’s traditions, customs and culture, and therefore is considered extremely inappropriate.”

The statement cited a passage of the constitution that says the monarchy should maintain political neutrality.

Next month’s vote is being closely watched as the first chance for Thailand to return to democracy after five years under military rule.

Analysts say the king’s intervention would in any case have been likely to have led to the election commission disqualifying her from the 24 March election.

The BBC’s Jonathan Head said the move to nominate the princess looks like a grave miscalculation, one likely to weaken the pro-Shinawatra faction trying to push the military out of politics.

What has the princess herself said?

Hours earlier, Princess Ubolratana defended her decision to run for office.

In an Instagram post, she reiterated that she had relinquished all her royal titles and now lived as a commoner.

She said she wanted to exercise her rights as an ordinary citizen by offering her candidacy for prime minister. She said she would work with all sincerity and determination for the prosperity of all Thais.

Shortly after the king’s statement she posted again without addressing the issue directly, simply thanking Thais for their support and saying that she wanted Thailand to “move forward and become admired and accepted by the international community”.

 

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